The image of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been used as a tool for promoting a crypto start-up via a fake news site.
A local media source reported that sponsored stories had been posted on Facebook using the New Zealand PM’s image with article titles such as “This is where the future lies”, and “New Investment plan for Kiwis”. The former title related to a fake article claiming that the NZ treasury had purchased Bitcoin Revolution, a supposed Bitcoin firm.
It is not an unusual occurrence to have fake news sites use Ardern for promotions, according to a government spokeswoman at the Prime Minister’s office, claiming that the numbers of such occurrences are so frequent they’ve become almost impossible to track. She said:
“We aren’t able to manually or digitally monitor the increasing volume of fake news that fraudulently uses images of the Prime Minister.”
In August, an MP attacked the Prime Minister using a well-known fake news website to make her point, Tweeting an article challenging Ardern to denounce French child abuse laws. The PM showed her dismay at the time that politicians in positions of responsibility were using such sites to air their concerns publicly, arguing:
“We need politicians to make sure that we maintain a standard, that we don’t disseminate misinformation.”
This kind of fake media spin, which uses celebrities to supposedly endorse startups or investment opportunities has also been used to promote a number of cryptocurrency scams in the UK in 2018. British Billionaire and TV personality Alan Sugar recently joined an ever-expanding list of wealthy entrepreneurs whose names have been used in the promotion of cryptocurrency scams.
The New Zealand PM joins a growing list of those being targeted including Bill Gates, Richard Branston, Deborah Meaden and money saving expert Martin Lewis, who is currently pursuing his battle with Facebook in the High Court.
Ardern’s office has reportedly contacted Facebook and asked for the posts to be removed. The PM said earlier this year that she would expect any of her ministers using fake news sites to post stories to take them down.
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