Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office has reported a series of Facebook ads using her image to sell cryptocurrency as fake news. The ads were targeted specifically at Kiwis and pointed readers to a website dressed up to look like CNN, with a fake news story about the New Zealand Treasury supposedly investing half of its wealth in a Bitcoin startup.
Once Stuff brought the ads to the attention of the Government, the Prime Minister’s office moved to report them to Facebook, which led to them being taken dow
Each ad was targeted at a different age group of New Zealanders, with captions like “Every Kiwi age between 30 and 45 must NOT miss this” and a picture of Ardern with money or United States President Donald Trump.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s office said these ads came up more and more and the office was not able to keep a constant monitor on them.
“We aren’t able to manually or digitally monitor the increasing volume of fake news that fraudulently uses images of the Prime Minister,” the spokeswoman said.
“When we are advised of or discover examples of fake news that fraudulently use images of the Prime Minister we immediately inform Facebook who are usually pretty good at taking them down.
“Unfortunately this seems to be happening more regularly and highlights why social media platforms like Facebook need to remain vigilant about shutting down the fake news that shows up on their sites.”
Ardern is not the first Kiwi politician to feature in a fake news ad trying to sell bitcoin.
Former Prime Minister John Key featured in ads on Facebook and Twitter in late 2017 that pointed Kiwis to a real-looking NZ Herald website where Key was quoted as saying “I purchased a mere $1000 and followed the bitcoin loophole system, and now seven years later my $1000 investment is worth $300 million. It’s funny to think how that $1000 has grown to become my biggest asset.”
Key had some difficulty getting the ads removed promptly.