New Zealand company sparks controversy with anti-women's rights social media post

Spark NZ faces backlash after supporting the removal of women's rights advocates from Meta's Threads app, drawing criticism for marginalising women's voices.

New Zealand company sparks controversy with anti-women's rights social media post
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A New Zealand internet service provider has been forced to issue a statement over a controversial social media post in support of purging women's rights advocates from Meta's new Threads app.

Spark NZ drew fire from the public after its Threads account responded to controversial trans rights activist Shaneel Lal "wholeheartedly co-signing" a post where Lal stated that Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter clone app should "not tolerate" women's rights advocates on the platform.

Lal used the label 'TERF', an acronym for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, to describe those advocating for women's rights in opposition to trans activists.

Lal has been an outspoken figure in the country and was controversially named Young New Zealander of the Year in April following a violent protest against women they promoted, forcing women's rights advocate Kellie-Jay Keen, also known as Posie Parker, to cut short her NZ tour over concerns for her safety.

Spark NZ's post received immediate backlash with users across social media expressing their concern that the company was in support of marginalising the voice of women.

The company on Monday took to social media in a bid to clarify its stance, stating:

"We know there has been a lot of debate over the weekend, and we would like to provide more clarity on where we stand.

At Spark we believe the internet should be an inclusive space for all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other factor. We have a very long history of supporting women, particularly through improved gender representation, progression, and by reducing the gender pay gap.

We are also strong supporters of the LGBTQ+ community. We recognise there are wide ranging views on how to create safe spaces in both the online and offline world and we will continue to live up to our own values, and our belief in diversity and inclusion, while respecting each person's right to their own view. 

We know our original posts did not reflect this well, and that's something we will learn from. We hope that this provides more context and some assurance that we support inclusivity and safe environments for all people." 

But the statement did little to address concerns with social media users accusing the company of further dividing New Zealander's on the sensitive topic.

"It's too late. You have activists in your business. You should be bringing people together and not dividing them," one user responded.

"You've misread the situation badly. Women make up 51% of your marketplace ... forcing the mistaken belief of ACTUAL womanhood down our throats is way out of your lane. Cease to comment. Apologise. Wake up," wrote another.

However, Spark NZ weren't the only corporation to enter the debate with telecommunications provider One NZ also responding to Lal's post reacting to the firestorm by stating:

"We don't want them either. (in response to Spark NZ customers looking to take their business elsewhere). Not welcome here. We stand with you @sparknz and anyone else brave enough to call them out."

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