Twitter fact-checkers have called out an adviser to former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after he falsely claimed women's rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen made a 'fascist hand gesture'.
Clint Smith, a former policy and communications strategist for Ardern, tweeted this week that Keen had used a 'fascist hand gesture' pointing out a freeze-frame from a video where Keen appeared to display the 'okay' hand sign that some left-wing activists claim is also a 'white power' symbol.
However, Twitter users were quick to point out that the supposed racist hand gesture was a normal hand movement conveniently paused and screen-captured to infer Keen was dog-whistling to racists by using the gesture.
A community note was added to Smith's tweet to add context and let users know the tweet contained misinformation.
The fact check provided by Twitter Community Notes users stated that "the tweet mischaracterises a screen shot of one frame taken from a video as a ‘fascist hand gesture’ by Kellie-Jay Keen. The video demonstrates that there was no hand gesture, rather just normal hand movements made in the course of conversation."
Keen, also known online as Posie Parker, is currently in Australia and is planning to head to New Zealand this weekend to lead "Let Women Speak" women's rights rallies.
This incident comes as criticism grows in New Zealand over the role of radical left-wing ideologies influencing the government. Under Ardern, New Zealand came under global scrutiny for its censorship actions and weaponisation of "disinformation" narratives to counter dissent from New Zealanders under the guise of tackling "online extremism".
Last week, Rebel News reported that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet had contracted the services of "The Disinformation Project" during the Covid-19 pandemic. The director of the Disinformation Project, Kate Hannah's extreme ideology was unmasked in an open letter reportedly penned by Hannah to her vice-chancellor at the University of Waikato in 2017, in which she states that she uses Marxism, feminism, and postcolonial theory as critical theoretical approaches to "understand the world".
Smith, who falsely claimed Keen made a 'fascist hand gesture', is now the director of Victor Strategy and Communications, a Wellington-based Government Relations Consulting Firm. The company claims to support clients to work with the government to improve policy and legislation in ways that "benefit their clients and New Zealand as a whole".
"Smith uses his wealth of experience in the heart of politics and deep connections with the Government to get results," the company's website states.
Meanwhile, human rights organisations in New Zealand have opposed the visit of Keen, who is scheduled to deliver speeches in Auckland and Wellington as part of her "Let Women Speak" tour.
Despite the Immigration Minister Michael Wood's comments about her "inflammatory, vile and incorrect world views", Immigration New Zealand confirmed on Wednesday that she would be allowed into the country.
Gender Minorities Aotearoa, InsideOUT Kōaro, and Auckland Pride filed for a judicial review in the High Court to challenge this decision, but failed when the court dismissed the application.