Kiwiblog still has problems

Some blogs appear to have had a legal shake up this week over the Gayford rumour mongering. One blog has been having a big sook and claiming to be the big victim. They are full of contradictions and irony. This takes the cake:

One thing I have learned in politics is that when a political party accuses some other party or individuals of heinous political crimes then they are actually projecting their own actions and abilities against those they accuse.

This is a well known tactic. From what I’ve seen over the years that its exactly what they themselves often do.

At least they have fairly tight moderation and largely seem to have filtered out attempts to hint around the legal letter sent out to some media.

However this issue has highlighted a longstanding problem with Kiwiblog. It’s biggest strength is it’s biggest weakness – it’s very light moderation and very little monitoring. This has encouraged open and free flowing discussions, and there are some gems if you look for them.

But it has also allowed a culture of abuse to become established, as well as enabling the pushing of legal boundaries. This made it a forum of choice for some of those intent on pushing Gayford rumours.

Stuff: Where did the false Clarke Gayford rumours come from?

One early April post on right-leaning site Kiwiblog featured a whole thread discussing the rumours as a “personal scandal” in the comment section, with several commenters with thousands of other comments to their name spreading them.

This probably about the time the rumours picked up steam, but they had originated from months earlier.

That thread remained up on Wednesday, but was soon deleted after Stuff contacted Kiwiblog editor David Farrar for comment.

Farrar told Stuff he deletes defamatory content when it is brought to his attention.

From my own experience he does this promptly and responsibly.

With two million comments and counting on the site it was difficult to keep on top of everything, and he didn’t routinely read the comments on every post.

“When you get that level of comments you can’t go and read them all, you can’t go and read them all it would just take hours every day,” Farrar said.

For a small blog it can be difficult, but for forum the size of Kiwiblog it would be very difficult. Yesterday’s General Debate had 500 comments.

“I tried searching to see if I could proactively find some of it, and actually it’s really hard because people don’t necessarily use the name you would think, they sometimes use nicknames etc. It is really difficult.”

He had suspended several users over comments concerning the Gayford rumours.

To that extent a good response, but the problem persists. Some of those intent on keeping the rumours going have switched tack, to ‘where there’s smoke’ and trying to talk up a Streisand’s effect. As well as trying a conspiracy angle of blaming it all on Labour.

This has turned into a story about the Left slandering National and it’s supporters with false allegations.

The most credible story I have heard is that these rumors came from within Labour and were just gossip about Ardern’s bit of rough. They were not politically motivated or anything new. Now she is promoted beyond her ability its a problem.

“I have heard” is not evidence. It is a common way of trying to spread dirty rumours.

But Farrar has a bigger problem – continuing attempts to hint at what the rumours were about. I have seen two examples already today.

This is a problem Farrar has created for himself to an extent, but having such a hands off approach to monitoring and moderation. But if he doesn’t find a way of dealing with it he could have difficulties.

Another problem for Farrar is his openly disclosed association with National. By allowing Kiwiblog to be used as an attack and rumour mongering forum he is giving opponents of National free shots with claims of ongoing dirty politics.

But changing a culture that has become established virtually unfettered for a decade won’t be easy.

62 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  May 5, 2018

    Yes I read that stuff article this morning & thought it was a very cleverly done hit job on DPF.

    • What is interesting is that for a rumour that the media claim has been circulating for 7 months has only recently on blogs and Twitter. Why would they continue to point the finger when it’s clear to all that it was Media seeding and promulgating the whole affair. Its the media that the lawyer’s letters were sent to.

      The MSM have been rabbiting on about it trying to get private citizens to expose it so they could report on the rumour spreading. This aftermath is just more of the same.

      I should add that the rumour mill re Gayford is still as busy as ever, fuelled in part by the exceptional Police Commissioner’s entry into the whole affair. From what I’ve heard, it’s not as if there was only ever one and it’s not as if they involve illegalities.

      • “it was Media seeding and promulgating the whole affair”

        As far as I’ve seen the media only got involved this week.

        I’ve heard different rumours but have seen absolutely no evidence supporting any of them.

        • It’s been said (by the media) that rumours were circulating for “seven months”, or “months”, not one month (as in the first Kiwiblog post).

          “For the past seven months, Gayford has been the subject – on social media and via word of mouth – of untrue allegations and accusations.”

          Kim Dotcom’s hagiographer David Fisher for NZHerald: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12043351

          • There are still links on major blogs to an explicit website in February.

            Early attempts were made here in November, and I’ve seen it touched on as far back as October (there’s evidence but I’m not going to link).

  2. Gerrit

     /  May 5, 2018

    That is the problem with the non specification of what the rumours were. Anything and everything can now be construed as a rumour.

    So which rumour does the lawyers letter refer too?

    For a blog administrator to be able to moderate comments, he/she needs to know what rumours to moderate.

    I too noticed two different rumours being alluded to (both already widely available in the ether) so how can anyone moderate on an unknown?

    Would mean the moderator has to be informed of what is permissible and which rumourt is the matter covered by the lawyers letter.

    • Gezza

       /  May 5, 2018

      Could have quite a chilling effect on the spreading of rumours & discussion about them generally & make blogmeisters more wary about not moderating content closely. Surprisingly enuf while in some cases it might be a disappointment if I wanted to know what exactly they were, as in this case, on the whole, this is not causing me any concern at all. I am puzzled by those who are concerned that this may inhibit the spreading of false rumours. As rumours that are true are defensible, my assumption is they object to having to worry about what rumours they can spread.

      • Gerrit

         /  May 5, 2018

        Am coming from the opposite end in questioning how a blog owner can be taken to court for spreading rumours when the content of that rumour is secret.

        Then we have the problem of comments being written so that it makes no sense, unless you had learned of the rumour somewhere else.

        How can a moderator guard against that?

        Would show the examples from KiwiBlog but will leave that to PG.

        • Gezza

           /  May 5, 2018

          The problem of comments being written in such a way that it makes no sense, isn’t a problem. If it makes no sense to someone who hasn’t actually heard the malicious rumour then it can’t be defamatory. PG has allowed that. If the rumour is actually spelled out & potentially defamatory & the blogmeister takes action to remove it as soon as he is aware of it & does so within as short a timeframe as possible I am doubtful he or she would be found guilty of defamation. If I saw anything on here I thought might be a risk, I’d email PG.

      • I think that one of the biggest problems is the malicious promotion of false or unsubstantiated rumours with the aim of creating a Streisand effect, which can put the target in an invidious position, where defending themselves is what the dirt mongers are trying to achieve.

        • PDB

           /  May 5, 2018

          Too late I think – the MSM have already seen to that.

      • spreading of rumour has happened in many ways

    • This is a problem, especially when you don’t get the letter.

      Copies of the letter sent to media are vague and I think it leaves it up to the judgement of each media to decide what could be a risk. As has been mentioned here I think it should be possible to mention details of rumours without legal risk (that doesn’t mean no risk of legal action though), but have chosen to not not allow the promotion of any unsubstantiated rumours here. I’m happy to help shut down any Streisand effect, which has been an obvious aim of some to make something out of no evidence.

      • Blazer

         /  May 5, 2018

        depends on the standards you adopt regarding rumours…Labour intern ‘scandal’…case in point.

        • PDB

           /  May 5, 2018

          That wasn’t ‘rumour’ that actually happened and was widely reported by the MSM at the time. Same with Labour’s attempted cover-up (on-going) regarding alleged sexual harassment of young people in Waihi.

        • Are you aware that if I had imposed an absolute standard regarding rumours it could impact a lot on your commenting.

          • Blazer

             /  May 5, 2018

            depends… opinion/conjecture are the life blood of blogs.

    • Blazer

       /  May 5, 2018

      apparently there was a rumour…that the AC event would take place in…Italy…some ,peddled it.

      • Gerrit

         /  May 5, 2018

        The problem is Blazer…that the thought of having the AC in Italy (not a rumour…note the difference) was an actual option. Widely reported at the time and not shrouded in secrecy nor under curfew by a legal letter.

        I voiced an opinion (reflected by many I know) that this was a strong possibility. Is that promulgating a rumour? Not in my view. Expressing an opinion is not rumour mill grinding.

        Still think that there is a 10% chance of the cup moving to Italy.

  3. PDB

     /  May 5, 2018

    All we know is the false rumour in question was related to some sort of criminal activity hence the police statement.

    The police position is interesting, and one many people have commented upon. Where is the line-in-the-sand for police regarding when they publically announce when someone is not under investigation for a crime? Is being the PM’s live-in boyfriend now the bar? If so why does this not apply to anybody else in the community getting hammered by untrue rumours of criminal activity?

    • Most of the public are unlikely to be subjected to rumour mongering to this degree over many months including on high profile forums (especially Twitter).

      • Gerrit

         /  May 5, 2018

        I disagree, no one (from a pauper to a king) should be treated any differently by the Police. Where does one than draw the line of who gets the Police protection from the rumour mill?

        How big a presence does one need on twitter to get this Police protection.

        I for one am not on twitter so wont get the protection. So much for an egalitarian society

        • “no one (from a pauper to a king) should be treated any differently by the Police. ”

          That may sound good in theory but it doesn’t work like that in practice.

          I don’t have a blogger protection squad. I think the prime Minister and family accompanying her need protection – sadly, but they are a much bigger target for nutters than most of us.

          • Gerrit

             /  May 5, 2018

            Whilst I agree the PM and her fellow travelers should have extra physical protection from nutters via the diplomatic protection squad.

            The level of verbal protection should be available and of similar statue for all New Zealander’s, irrespective of ones life station.

            Getting a bit close to the “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” scenario.

            I think you should be worried that the Police wont protect your good character, but the countries “leaders” must be for they are on a higher hierarchy.

  4. Strong For Life

     /  May 5, 2018

    I don’t understand why these “rumours” were given air by Miss Ardern and her partner. I have zero interest in Mr Gayford and know nothing about these so-called rumours, nor am I interested. I think he has been overexposed and instead should be not seen and not heard. I think this matter has been handled poorly by the Labour party and the media. None of it makes sense to me. What will all this achieve and what is the point of it? Is it some sort of diversion tactic? Or is it a case of a Gayford, who enjoys basking in the media limelight, developing a thin skin? Gossip is a part of society, yes it can be destructive, but in this case I believe it would have been better for the first couple to say nothing.

    • “I don’t understand why these “rumours” were given air by Miss Ardern and her partner.”

      I’m not aware that they volunteered any air. Ardern had a minimal response after it went public in media, and Gayford chose not to comment as far as I have seen.

      I think it was inevitable that one of the larger media would do something on the story eventually.

    • ” I believe it would have been better for the first couple to say nothing.”

      That’s virtually what happened.

      • Gerrit

         /  May 5, 2018

        Whilst they said virtually nothing, their action in asking for a legal cease and desist letter shows they are concerned regarding the rumours.

        Interestingly if they had simply said “Not True” to the rumours it would have died a natural death, however with the heavy handedness of a legal letter they stifled that option.

        I do see that the speak out option of a flat out denial has problems for it gives the rumour spreaders to green light to provide the evidence in regards the rumour’s truth.

        Between a rock and a hard place.

        • Blazer

           /  May 5, 2018

          is that right!…would it have been a slow,lingering …death..or a quick one?

          • Gerrit

             /  May 5, 2018

            If the rumours are true, they have a choice. Quick or slow…Hobson, what is it to be?

            • Blazer

               /  May 5, 2018

              on this premise…’Interestingly if they had simply said “Not True” to the rumours it would have died a natural death, ‘

        • duperez

           /  May 5, 2018

          Rock and hard place? Agree. If they’d simply said “Not True” to the rumours it would have died a natural death? In your opinion maybe, definitely not mine.

          You’ve used the expression yourself so I will – nutters. A denial or any comment would have been used by that group as encouragement.

  5. Blazer

     /  May 5, 2018

    human nature dictates…people love gossip…the more salacious the better…and SEX is the most potent …ingredient.Ask PDB!

    • Gerrit

       /  May 5, 2018

      Careful, you might be spreading…rumours.

      Not sure PG will take kindly to you getting him into legal trouble.

      But then again the rumours might not be about what you are referring to. That is the trouble with secrecy, the blog moderators might have to sensor all comments.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 5, 2018

    I don’t see why anything much changes. Publishing defamatory material is hazardous whether or not a cease and desist letter has been received. Keeping it up after being directly notified is the only further hazard.

    • Gerrit

       /  May 5, 2018

      Alan, unless that letter lists what you need to cease and desist from, the issue becomes what are we not allowed to talk about?

      I agree if you get a letter that plainly states…stop talking about this particular rumour…then to continue to spread that rumour is foolhardy.

      For without the context, the letter can refer to anything you may say about a person. Plainly stifling free speech.

      • We don’t know what each recipient was told in the letter. By the reaction of a couple of sites it was much more than the published versions. It sounds like things could have been made quite clear to them.

    • And it’s beneficial to sites to get warning letters rather than immediate legal action (my understanding is that the first step should normally be to ask that anything deemed defamatory is removed).

  7. Callum

     /  May 5, 2018

    The big problem is the Police statement clears one rumour and you would only know that if you had heard the rumours before it became more public. Unfortunately it has given sunlight to the other rumours that are harder to refute and not affected by the police statement. I think the Police statement was a huge mistake from that perspective and they should have stayed out of it.
    Kiwiblog to me has no issues, they have a very clear process for reporting comments which does get used and a strong history of suspending or banning infringing members.

    • There is little sign that the reporting procedures are used to any degree at KB, and the levels of personal abuse, lying and rumour mongering have run rampant largely unabated for many years.

      • Callum

         /  May 5, 2018

        I’ve used the reporting function a number of times quite effectively. There is also a public list of suspensions and bannings.

        • There’s a huge amount that doesn’t get dealt to.

          I’ve used the reporting function this morning, ineffectively, and things have been getting worse since.

          Commenters who would appear to not care about DPF’s potential legal exposure.

          • Callum

             /  May 5, 2018

            Suspect this won’t last long.The report function is a lot more user friendly than yours, otherwise Bill Browns post below would already be deleted.

            • The report function here is quite effective, as soon as I saw it I acted. I’m not hovering over things 24/7, no one does that.

        • Griff

           /  May 5, 2018

          The effectiveness of the reporting function depends on the different personalty’s.
          Some are a lot less likely to report an offensive comment directed at them than others.
          Some use the report function in an effort to silence their perceived enemy’s rather than to report offensive behavior without bias. As offensive comment going with the tribal identity as many times less likely to be reported than one against it.
          The mind sate of the moderator on the day also plays a role .
          I pointed out one a few weeks ago were a reply to an insinuation of pedophilia in kind resulted in the replying party being banned and the first transgression ignored.
          You also have a few who circumvent the result of discipline by using new identity’s
          Kea being one who has used at lest three and still inhabits KB.

  8. sorethumb

     /  May 5, 2018

    I found out what the rumours were alluding to.

    • Gezza

       /  May 5, 2018

      Well done. I did a couple of google searches but in the absence of any helpful pointers nothing came up straight away & I was dubious enuf not to want to spend any more time on. The Bennett rumours were easier to find, but I think someone suggested a google query.

  9. Bill Brown

     /  May 5, 2018

    [Deleted. And deliberate malice and blatant disregard for legal reasons and after clear warnings means you have lost the privilege to comment here. PG]

    • Callum

       /  May 5, 2018

      Suspect this won’t last long.

    • Gezza

       /  May 5, 2018

      Nah, that’s not it – the police wouldn’t care about that one.

      • Gezza

         /  May 5, 2018

        Anyway, who isn’t these days?

    • Blazer

       /  May 5, 2018

      you mean Superman…Kent,I’m sure.

    • Bill Brown

       /  May 5, 2018

      Like I care you dick

      • I let this comment through to show the response. People like that can’t resist reverting to form, and ‘Bill Brown’ has a lot of form.

  10. PartisanZ

     /  May 5, 2018

    “Putting out fire with gasoline” … David Bowie

  11. duperez

     /  May 5, 2018

    Kiwiblog still has problems?
    It has allowed a culture of abuse to become established?
    Kiwiblog has been allowed to be used as an attack and rumour mongering forum?
    I’m pretty sure many of the posters on there would say “And? So? What’s wrong with that?”

    Others might venture that Kiwiblog is an attack and rumour mongering forum and that the purpose of and presentation of many pieces is to take the mantra they used to show on their page, “Fomenting happy mischief”, to its necessary level. Stomping on reputations, building distrust, appealing to neanderthal instincts and intelligence is oh, such great fun, such happy, cheeky mischief.

    None of that is about moderation. That’s about purpose.

    • Whether it’s purpose or as a result in disinterest in the culture and content of the comments sections it provides an ongoing excuse for criticism of DPF, and of National by his association with the party.

      • duperez

         /  May 5, 2018

        Oh, you were just talking about the comments section? 😉

        The amount of criticism and the nature of it is irrelevant. We had an air rifle which was so ineffective that if the slugs got high enough in the air towards the possums, they’d had time to organise themselves to the angle they wanted, to best bat them back at us.

        I believe the National Party will not lose one vote because of criticism about that site or DPF, or lose one iota of support and that it’s following will have their partisanship roused and firmed and see them more likely to be advocates fighting the good fight.

  1. Kiwiblog still has problems — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition