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Labour uses image of influencer charged with rape, human trafficking to endorse Instagram post

Author
Adam Pearse,
Publish Date
Wed, 31 Jan 2024, 12:48PM
A screenshot of an Instagram reel posted by Labour's Māori caucus account which includes a GIF of Andrew Tate who is charged of rape and human trafficking. Photo / Instagram
A screenshot of an Instagram reel posted by Labour's Māori caucus account which includes a GIF of Andrew Tate who is charged of rape and human trafficking. Photo / Instagram

Labour uses image of influencer charged with rape, human trafficking to endorse Instagram post

Author
Adam Pearse,
Publish Date
Wed, 31 Jan 2024, 12:48PM

Labour has admitted to an error in using a GIF of divisive influencer Andrew Tate - a man charged with rape and human trafficking - to endorse a post on one of the party’s Instagram accounts. 

The post, a reel, was put up on the Labour Māori caucus’ account last week. It featured a screenshot of a 1News article about Labour leader Chris Hipkins’ comments at Rātana. 

It was complemented with a GIF, an animated image, of Tate accompanied by the word “Correct!”. 

A screenshot of an Instagram reel posted by Labour's Māori caucus account which includes a GIF of Andrew Tate who is charged of rape and human trafficking. Photo / InstagramA screenshot of an Instagram reel posted by Labour's Māori caucus account which includes a GIF of Andrew Tate who is charged of rape and human trafficking. Photo / Instagram 

In late 2022, Tate was detained in Romania following his arrest on charges of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group to exploit women. 

Tate, a British-American former kickboxer who denies the charges and alleges the claims against him are part of a conspiracy, this week lost an appeal to ease judicial control measures imposed while the legal case continues, meaning he was not allowed to leave the country. 

The man who has called himself the “king of toxic masculinity” has 8.7 million followers on X, formerly Twitter. 

The Herald reported last year how the Ministry of Education has been working with experts to gather information on Tate to prevent students getting indoctrinated by Tate’s rhetoric which had seen him previously banned from various social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech. 

The Herald requested a statement from Hipkins and Labour’s Māori caucus. A Labour spokeswoman only provided a statement from Māori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson, who said the inclusion of the Tate GIF was “clearly an error” and was removed as soon as it was recognised. 

The reel had been public for at least two hours when it was seen by the Herald. 

“Instagram is an important channel for the Labour Māori Caucus and comprehensive steps have been put in place to ensure such an error does not happen again,” Jackson said. 

Asked what those steps were, the spokeswoman said the “strategy, plan and approval process” for social media posts had been revised. She wouldn’t discuss what revisions had been made. 

Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill. Photo / SuppliedRape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill. Photo / Supplied 

Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill worked in schools teaching consent education and said Tate’s influence was evident even now. 

“Up until the end of last year, we still had students commenting about Andrew Tate and how they really admire him depsite his multiple claims of rape and abuse of women. 

“It seems very bizarre to me [Labour] would be using a picture of Andrew Tate to publicise anything.” 

Tohill said Tate’s comments didn’t just appeal to young people, citing a workshop she held with a group of adults who sympathised with Tate and believed he had been misrepresented in the press. 

She was confident Labour hadn’t intentionally used Tate to endorse its post, but she cautioned against the message even a mistake could send to online followers. 

“Giving Andrew Tate any oxygen is a reminder to our many young people who virtually revere him and [make them] think that he’s someone that they should look up to. 

“You are giving people the idea that this person is someone one of our major parties endorses.” 

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime. 

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