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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Facebook, the domain of fools?

7 August 2019

The other day I posted a video to Facebook.

It was a simple (and rather poorly done) piece of CGI which made fun of the fact that our local council has been promising the town a "wow factor" building as a part of a very expensive redevelopment of the CBD.

If you've got a FaceBook account you can see the video here

I also shared that video with the local community Facebook (closed) group.

OMG... what a reaction!

Whilst many people saw this for the parody that it was, a whole bunch of others were outraged that public money had been wasted on such an ugly structure.

Within hours, the video had received over 2,000 views and nearly 200 comments

Even the local council's PR person waded in and said that it wasn't real.

Other people confirmed this by driving into town to check for themselves.

And then the post on the community page mysteriously disappeared.

Yep, the post and all the comments it had attracted were swiped into oblivion by one of the admins.

Based on the emojis and comments, a lot of people got the joke and thought it was very funny.

I (and others) in the comments made it very clear that it was fake.

But, once the local council got their knickers in a knot, the post was taken down.

The justification given was that it was deceptive and fake.

Excuse me?

This is the same admin that repeatedly allows pyramid schemes, mystics, clairvoyants and religious posts to the same group. Are they also not "deceptive and fake"?

No, it's pretty clear to me that the operators of this page are "friends of council" and although the group professes to be a platform for "Any news, photos, anything at all to do with Tokoroa". Indeed, it was made clear that the post was removed because council were being criticised by those who thought this was real.

So as I said... this page is highly supportive of council -- and the councilors who govern that council.

One can't help but wonder therefore, how many other posts are removed which we don't know about.

With local body elections just months away, do users of this Facebook group actually realise that they're perhaps getting a very "filtered" view of public opinion? All those opinions which might be critical of council or elected members, or candidates could well be filtered by admins in order to support their "friends".

Now I don't mind people running Facebook groups, forums or websites that show bias or favour -- but I do think they should be totally open and transparent that this is what's happening. Sadly, that is not the case with "The Genuine Tokoroa" Facebook group and given that it has a membership equal to the entire town's population, the hidden bias intrinsic to this group could play a huge part in skewing the election outcomes.

I would argue that during an election period, all forms of media should be required to disclose any bias, prejudice or favour in respect to their content. To include such biases and not declare them is unacceptable.

Or do I have this wrong?

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