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HomeNewsVoices for Freedom and the mis/disinformation war

Voices for Freedom and the mis/disinformation war

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Tiffany Brown
Tiffany Brown
Tiffany Brown is a freelance writer based in the Auckland region. She has extensive experience in feature writing on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting topics, a diverse range of commercial work, as well as local news and features journalism.

Anyone paying attention to the controversy surrounding New Zealand’s COVID-19 response measures will be aware of Voices for Freedom (VFF), with its distinctive branding, provocative signage and a growing presence throughout the country.

Blogger David Farrier recently announced in his When an advertising watchdog chases its tailblog entry that he was “calling bullshit” on both VFF and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), following an ASA ruling on one of VFF’s advertising leaflets.

The ASA rule fell in VFF’s favour, finding the claims on its Whats all the fuss about masks?” leaflet were “adequately substantiated in the context of advocacy advertising”. Farrier sought alternative opinion on the ASA’s decision-making, called into question the organisation’s ability to perform its role, and claimed that “people are dying of misinformation”.

In another blog entitled ‘Taking flight: the QAnon crowd avoiding masks, Farrier discussed the legal ramifications around mask exemptions, slamming people who exercised their right to self-determine their need for an exemption when, in his own opinion, they didn’t require them.

Farrier also claimed to have worn a “boring blue disposable” mask on a flight rather than a “funky personalised” (i.e cloth or reusable) one, despite the fact a Danish study published the previous month said humans were using around 129 billion face masks every month, made mostly from micro and nanoplastic microfibres not readily biodegraded in the environment, and threatening to become the planet’s “next plastic problem”.

The specific mention of VFF in Farrier’s Taking flightblog is brief and entirely false. Claiming the group is a front for QAnon beliefs, Farrier mentions child trafficking, ritualistic satanic abuse and conspiracy to microchip the population via vaccination, with a reference to ‘mark of the beast’, the biblical phenomenon believed by many to mark the end of time.

But VFF has not discussed, referred to, promoted or advertised any of these topics.

Taranaki VFF local group coordinator Tanetoa Webster said Farrier’s blog was another desperate attempt by mainstream media to paint VFF as something fringe, when the truth is the opposite. “Our group is made up of a wide cross-section of society. We represent many disparate voices and our achievements over the last year have proven our track record of representing everyday Kiwis.” These achievements included growing a database of close to 100,000 followers, establishing over 100 local groups and creating an Odyssey channel of webinar content and interviews with international experts including Robert F Kennedy, Jr and Dr Peter McCullough.

By definition, it’s Farrier’s assertions about VFF that fit the description of misinformation or disinformation. According to Auckland University Department of Physics Te Pūnaha Matatini’s 2021 working paper about its The Disinformation Project, misinformation is defined as “false information that people didn’t create with the intent to hurt others”, and disinformation is “false information created with the intention of harming a person, group, or organization, or even a company.” Farrier alone knows whether his comments were created with intent to hurt or harm VFF.

One of the authors of the Disinformation Project paper said there now exists in this country a social “hellscape”* of aggressive, violent, misogynist, racist bigotry online, claiming, “The social fabric of New Zealand is being tested and threatened daily.” A word cloud, a collection of text depicted in different sizes, features in the working paper, extracted from social media during August and September 2021, one of the longest periods of restrictions New Zealanders had experienced since COVID19 arrived. The biggest word in the cloud was “people”, and it included many other words including God, one, government, now, think, want, know, get, many, new and time. It can only be assumed the authors adjusted the word cloud to exclude the violent and offensive words which led to their assumptions. It would have been instructive to learn why The Disinformation Project kicked off in February 2020, before any COVID19 response measures were enacted by the government, however a request for more information was “politely declined” because the Communications and Marketing representative had been unable “to find anyone available to answer these questions”.

Another academic openly critical of VFF was professor of medicine at University of Auckland, Des Gorman. In a Radio NZ (RNZ) interview in May 2021, Gorman said VFF’s flyer campaigns could create vaccine hesitancy, claiming New Zealand had “no choice” but to follow an elimination strategy, and that “mass vaccination” was the only way we could “reintegrate with the planet” through a “high level of herd immunity.”

At that point, Delta was yet to hit our shores, but when it did, in August 2021, NZ was already well underway vaccinating its population with the Pfizer product developed for the original virus, and international experts were claiming herd immunity would be virtually impossible as the virus became more infectious.

By October 2021, New Zealand had abandoned its elimination strategy, choosing to tentatively learn to live with the virus while pushing for widespread vaccination of the population in an unprecedented manner, including mandating sections of the workforce, despite previously promising not to do so.

So, what exactly is the misinformation and disinformation VFF is considered to be promulgating? It seems nearly impossible to find out. A request to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for more information resulted in a protracted series of emails – the spokesperson seemed reluctant to acquiesce to the request without first being told which publication the article was being prepared for – and the correspondence concluded with the spokesperson providing a press release which discussed ‘trusted sources’ of information about the virus and the vaccine, urged us all to play our part in stopping misinformation, referenced mechanisms to report misinformation, gave reassurance that many government departments are working closely on dealing with misinformation, but provided no details on what the misinformation was, nor a single, specific reference to the Voices for Freedom organisation.

It seems MOH is highly efficient at talking about the subject of misinformation, but not so helpful when it comes to discovering what that misinformation might actually look like.

 

Tiffany Brown is a freelance writer based in the Auckland region. She has extensive experience in feature writing on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting topics, a diverse range of commercial work, as well as local news and features journalism An active community volunteer and a cappella singer, Tiffany has managed to complete her first novel, and is currently ruminating on her next. Since 2020, Tiffany has been increasingly concerned about global government overreach, and is currently a contributing member of Voices for Freedom.

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38 COMMENTS

    • Thank you for this article Tiffany.

      100% bang on.

      We are all awake to their bullshit, I will never blindly trust any mainstream media source ever again. Question everything you are told, everything. There’s always an angle.

  1. One more thing. Tiffany, given you are a ‘contributing member of Voices for Freedom’ can you explain to us how the group is funded and by who?

    Alice.

  2. Alice, Alice, Alice, the biggest most stratospherically expensive misinformation govt-media-driven mind-control program in NZ’s history is being paid for by you, my dear – if you’re paying tax, as I imagine you are or have if you live in NZ.

    Do your homework – thoroughly.

    You should then find that the amount an organisation like VFF receives from its concerned donors is miniscule in comparison.

    If the Pfizer mRNA injection is truly effective and also safe, why are so many very intelligent, highly qualified, good and caring NZers working hard and freely donating their time and money to exposing the truth about the Pfizer injection’s harmfulness and ineffectiveness.

    Read this too, Alice, it may help you renegotiate your way.

    https://principia-scientific.com/the-5-basic-laws-of-human-stupidity-according-to-cipolla/

  3. mmmm – I should go comment on Stuff, NZ Herald, Hub about the 54million or so they have received in tax payers money and what they do with this….wait they have just about all their comment sections turned off so taxpayers like me cant ask those questions…..

    Im really curious as to what percentage of their total operating budget that makes up – I mean 50mill -/+ a few mill is a lot of money…..I wouldnt be suprised if its quite high given the nature of their reporting……

    • Yeah, the disappearance of comment sections all over the MSM sites in the last few years is a dead giveaway.

      They’re utter cowards who can’t afford to have their ideas challenged because deep down they know they’re either wrong or blatantly lying.

      People who are in the right, and know they’re in the right, don’t go around trying to ban and censor everyone else from speaking.

      • They are blatantly lying.

        Just read the coverage on Stuff about gentleman who got poked in the by supposedly a law enforcement officer (more like a law breaking officer). They deliberately didn’t play all the footage. The writer starts off calling the gentleman protesting ‘parliament occupier’.

        • There were “troublemakers” among the protesters but Peters said he was trying to pacify the situation and was filming on his phone.

          Hard to determine in that scuffle who is passive and who is not.

        • Going from having a comment section a few years ago to suddenly yanking it away the moment people start questioning your propaganda IS literal censoring of said people’s voices.

          Think about it

          • THose commenst section are ognored by places like sTuff and the Herald. Tyhey atre in place to mostly let dumb people., like you and me, see their name and words in a public space and have a fleeting surge of dopamine,. We are stupid.

  4. The ‘comments section’ is neither here nor there. The outlets are not wasting time reading every comment. Comments are there for ‘reader engagement’.
    If you genuinely have questions of these organisations pick up the phone or email them. They are way more forthcoming than you might think.

    Their financial information is easily accessible through Companies House. Have a look for it.

    Alice.

    • Glad to see you’re an engaged reader here, Alice. Feel like I’m wasting my time, though, reading and responding to your comments. Enough, enough.

      “But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

    • Sorry Alice, the “comment section issue” is actually HIGHLY relevant here, not “neither here nor there” as you say.

      It’s about much more than reader engagement, it’s about people being able to give their honest to god interpretation and/or opinions on what they’ve just read and what they think about it.

      It encourages the free exchange of ideas and gives everyone, including the media website operators and indeed those in power an on-the-spot gauge of where public sentiment is at on any given issue. Well, at least it used to anyway, back when they still actually have a shit what people think.

      On one side you have independent media sites like this one who are brave enough to include a comment section where people can have their say, even if it’s to accuse the site of being fake news. No matter how right or wrong people are, at least they’re free to speak. An environment like that always fosters better communication, less hostility, and good ideas always win out over bad ones. That’s mostly how western democracies worked for about the last 100 years 🤷🏼‍♂️

      And on the other side you have a bunch of establishment people saying “shut up, accept everything we have to say as gospel. Don’t question us, don’t even discuss it amongst yourselves, we won’t provide a platform for your “hate”.”

      And THATS the side you’re defending? Seriously?! Have you read, like, ANY history at all ever?!

      Censorship always was and always will be the favourite tool of those who know their ideas are wrong and poisonous, and that’s a fact. Nothing you reply to me can change that.

      But whatever, have fun being on the side with their boot on the throat of the common man 👍

      • “It encourages the free exchange of ideas and gives everyone, including the media website operators and indeed those in power an on-the-spot gauge of where public sentiment is at on any given issue.”

        It’s simply for reader engagement. A friend at what you might call ‘mainstream media’ is in a team of five. Only one of the team ever reads the comments and that’s at smoko to amuse the others. I’m not saying that’s representative but keep it in mind.

        Alice

        • Yeah nah, I actually won’t argue with your last point.

          The utter contempt left wing journalists have for the common man is well documented at this point. It’s reciprocated too, pretty much the biggest reason more and more people are inclined to dismiss their unpopular and worthless opinions.

  5. REAL information: Public (taxpayer) money was transferred to private (shareholder) money.
    The monies collected from YOU, were given to make others more wealthy. To refill the coffers, I suspect taxes will be raised next.

  6. To Alice Kerr,
    Untill the foolish media and reporters are prepared to breach the controll of Josinda and Labour and start to “talk” honestly to the protesting people and report fairly and honestly there will continued misunderstanding of the other side. Is it not the media’s job to be unbiased and fair and report both sides? Unfortunately once a Govt. Pays huge money to the press it no longer is unbiased and then dishonesty prevails. The words honour, honesty and “to be honorable” are derived from the same word the opposite is dishonor and dishonest which the mass media is now guilty of. This is my opinion and far too many NZ’ders opinion as well.

  7. Well written Tiffany good to read something sensible in this mad world. Hopefully one day we can open the hearald and read actual journalism……

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