Facebook removes Advance NZ page for 'repeated' misinformation about COVID-19

Facebook has removed the Advance NZ/New Zealand Public Party page for "repeated" violations of its misinformation policy.

The page was removed on Thursday afternoon, two days before New Zealand's 2020 election. A spokesperson for Facebook told Newshub the site "does not allow anyone to share misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm". 

"We have clear policies about this type of content and will enforce them regardless of anyone's political position or party affiliation."

Co-leader Billy Te Kahika Jr says he is "horrified beyond belief" at being de-platformed.

Te Kahika relies on social media to spread his views. The most recent political polls show his party at 1 percent - well below the five percent threshold necessary to enter Parliament.

"This is a cynical example of election interference by an American owned social media outlet that has no business performing any such operation in our sovereign nation," he said in a statement.

The party has previously made false claims that the Government forced through a law that made vaccination mandatory and then distributed "misleading and irresponsible" advertisements that doubled down on the misinformation.

Te Kahika also claimed that 5G could cause cancer - a claim he later falsely denied.

In a June appearance at the Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland, Te Kahika said: "We will live in a radiated atmosphere of 5G technology that destroys DNA, destroys and causes cancers in us, destroys our immune systems".

He later denied saying anything of the sort, despite uploading a video of him making the claims on social media.

A study of the Facebook pages of the nine biggest political parties from Victoria University of Wellington found Advance NZ/NZPP to be the worst offender of fake news - with more than a third of their posts wholly or partially false.