11 Aug 2018

Collins on fake news tweet: 'I don't believe in censorship'

1:18 pm on 11 August 2018

National MP Judith Collins is digging her heels in over her sharing of a story from a fake news website, denying she was wrong to do so.

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Simon Bridges and Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ

The senior MP yesterday posted on Twitter an article wrongly suggesting France is making it easier for paedophiles to escape rape charges.

The website she shared is known for pushing Russian narrative propaganda, and was apparently involved in Brexit and US election interference.

It's also known for conspiracy theories regarding pop stars, 'revealing' Katy Perry as a cannibal and Justin Bieber as a shapeshifter.

A Twitter user pointed Ms Collins to an article on the same website reporting a "real life vampire outbreak" in New Zealand.

Others asked whether the Prime Minister should also be denouncing the sinister alliance of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.

Ms Collins said she would think twice before sharing a link from that site again, but would not say she was wrong to do so.

"Some of the information is correct, and some of it not quite, but plenty of other stories like The Independent, The Guardian, Washington Post, and the Daily Telegraph have run stories on the same thing.

"I share a lot of information on Twitter and a lot of articles are just ... I find interesting and some of them I find quite bizarre," she said.

"I still share them because, actually, I don't believe in censorship on people's ideas."

Ms Collins also denied that National's leader Simon Bridges had spoken to her about her actions - even though he said he had.

Earlier, Mr Bridges said he was not going to reprimand her, saying everyone's prone to a social media controversy, including himself.

"I've liked things before, actually genuinely accidentally. I think when you're scrolling through things, you know that's created its own little controversy."

Despite the faux pas, Mr Bridges said he did not believe guidelines around fake news were necessary and would not be enforcing them on his party caucus.

"I think in this case Judith Collins feels strongly about the issue, that's legitimate. But it is a wrong source, she acknowledges that, and we should in general try and get them right."

The story Ms Collins shared is based on a real news story. France is passing legislation that will make it easier to prosecute crimes of sexual violence against minors.

But the country's President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism for stopping short of introducing an age of consent.

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