Over the weekend a very odd thing happened on the Facebook page for Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint with John Campbell program. This is a place where videos from Campbell’s show get posted, and people can comment on them, and it normally attracts a tiny handful of comments, or, just-as-often, none.
But over the last couple days a video about John Key wearing the Lockwood flag lapel attracted almost six hundred comments, many of them shockingly offensive. Via WhaleOil:
Who then editorialises:
Radio NZ is state funded, and this is what your tax dollars are funding. John Campbell is inciting that sort of behaviour too.
Here’s the real problem, they are wishing death on the Prime Minister for the “crime” of wearing a lapel pin. If they want to kill you for that what won’t they kill you for?
Radio NZ and John Campbell should hold their heads in shame, for not moderating their supporters, and for inciting criminal acts of threatening violence. I’m not sure the state broadcaster should be facilitating death threats and violence on the Prime Minister.
David Farrar quickly linked to this post, writing:
If Helen Clark was still Prime Minister and a taxpayer funded media site had comments like this up about her for several days, I’d imagine there would be mass sackings at the highest level.
And Matthew Hooton and various other National supporters took to twitter to lament John Campbell’s support among left-wing neo-nazis:
Radio New Zealand should absolutely be moderating comments like the ones WhaleOil found. They haven’t in the past because they haven’t had comments like that before. Or, really, many comments at all. Hooton argues that they’ve been flushed out by ‘the NZ left’s hate campaigns’. But here’s the thing. You can search Facebook for the profiles captured in WhaleOil’s screenshots. None of them seem to be left-wing activists, or commentators on New Zealand politics, or previous RNZ commentators, or, in a couple of cases, active Facebook users. Although it’s hard to know for sure, because they don’t tend to have any of the autobiographical information or other interactions that normal Facebook users do.
So it seems really odd that people like Insane Clown Posse fan ‘Tim Wikidclownz‘ would all randomly one weekend decide to pour into a sleepy Radio New Zealand Facebook page and leave comments about gassing John Key’s mother and similar obscenities. And that WhaleOil, the guy who stumbled over that copy of The Luminaries uploaded to Mega that only the person who illegally uploaded it would know about, also stumbled over these.
Update: From the comments:
I’d venture that that a host of Gamergate-style shell accounts haven’t been created in this instance (ie: they’re real people) but I’d also venture that the weird mix of commenters that turned up here haven’t made Checkpoint’s Facebook page their regular haunt (ie: they’re not a reflection of the mainstream of RNZ listeners, let alone the left).
The key here is the 782 shares the video’s received since 18 February. Anti-John Key groups, activist groups and plenty of individuals with sizeable public followings of their own. This is the reality of having content go viral, and being prepared to moderate when people pile on to it – both of which are relatively new experiences for RNZ as it starts ushering out video content.