The best anti-free speech advice money can buy you

Marianne Elliott is a researcher, strategist and storyteller who has used story-based research, advocacy and campaigning to influence policy in New Zealand and elsewhere over the past two decades

A Digital Threats to Democracy report has been made by The Workshop which is a policy and communication think tank. It was funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation who gave it $56,660 and it also received $24,000 funding from The Luminate Group.

Its paid for findings were as follows:

  1. Content moderation alone won’t be enough
  2. Citizens needed to be mobilised to rein in social media giants
  3. Tech and digital media users could use their leverage to demand more ethical online media.
  4. New Zealand’s conversation about protecting the right to safety alongside the freedom of speech had been “overly simplistic”
  5. So far, the conversation ignored some “real life” harms, including the laundering of extreme views, the psychological harm of encountering hatred online and the influence of racist views. 

The sixth point made by the report is the one that has me scratching my head as I cannot make head nor tail of what they are actually saying as it has been couched in coded language.

“If the open web is to be saved, it’s salvation will lie in a broader public understanding of the critical role of open and diverse internet governance … rather than the current focus on a narrowly defined, and widely misunderstood and misrepresented, concept of freedom of expression.” 

I don’t like the sound of that at all. That sounds like anti-free speech advice and an attempt to dilute the protection of free speech to be what a government wants it to be. Another confusing quote from the report that is filled with equally coded language is this: Quote.

“The history of digital media has shown that good intentions can cause more harm, if not informed by the diverse experiences of users and the research evidence.” end quote.

confused britney spears GIF

Our Coalition of Losers has a habit of paying stupid amounts of money to “working groups” in the expectation that they will report back with the advice to do what the government wanted an excuse to do in the first place. Jacinda Ardern has hit the jackpot with this non-governmental report from The Workshop as it will help her justify anti-free speech actions. quote.

[…] The “Christchurch Call” launched in April by Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron seeks a global agreement to attempt to stop platforms like Facebook being used to promote terrorism.

“It is critical that the Prime Minister and her advisors look beyond immediate concerns about violent extremism and content moderation”, lead researcher Marianne Elliott said.

“[They need] to consider the wider context in which digital media is having a growing and increasingly negative impact on our democracy.”

[…] Elliott said privately-owned platforms had so much power over people’s lives.

The study pointed to the influence of “opaque” algorithmic engines which had little transparency about how they work.

It also outlined the “attention economy”, where major players prioritised attention-grabbing content while avoiding responsibility for its impact on wellbeing and democracy.

Elliott said when combined, the lack of transparency and the attention economy posed serious threats. end quote.


Speaking of transparency, Marianne Elliot has ties with activist group ActionStation and works alongside Morgan Godfery and other left-wing activists for The Workshop NZ. Elliot has…quote.

[…] completed fieldwork for the project on digital inclusion, and started research in collaboration with ActionStation on the links between misinformation and racial abuse online, and what impact this has on democratic engagement. This work is funded by the Omidyar Group. end quote.


The Omidyar Group was founded by American billionaire Peter Omidyar who made his billions from E Bay and Paypal. This appears to be a case of a wealthy American funding a Socialist Activist group (Action Station) that is linked via Marianne Elliot to a “think tank.”

A think tank that concludes that our government should be redefining freedom of speech and controlling social media giants.