Vodafone NZ and Ngahere Communities myth-bust global 5G conspiracy theories
Using humour to beat rumours is front and centre in Vodafone's latest 5G campaign, a three-part series of online videos created by Ngahere Communities and online influencer Torrell Tafa, featuring Nikora Ngaropo, an industry tech expert - designed to help address misinformation and uncertainty about the safety of fifth generation mobile network technology (5G) particularly on social media channels.
Following a spate of arson attacks on cell sites (the towers that provide mobile and internet connectivity) around Aotearoa during the level four lockdown in April/May 2020, Vodafone NZ contacted Ngahere Communities to help understand community concerns around 5G, particularly with South Auckland where the majority of the early attacks occurred.
Nicky Preston, senior communications lead, Vodafone NZ explains, "We are trying to address an information gap and help Kiwis better understand the potential of 5G. New Zealanders increasingly rely on digital infrastructure to keep us connected to the internet, but as an industry we tend to over-complicate how mobile network technologies such as 5G operate. The science can be technical and confusing, so we're trying to translate complex topics on how phone and internet networks work into easily digestible videos that will be shared on social media - explaining electromagnetic frequencies and the evolution mobile tech.
"We started working on this kaupapa after the first NZ lockdown, when COVID-19 changed the landscape so dramatically and we realised we needed to provide more accessible 5G education following the arson attacks on cell sites, to combat conspiracy theories online. Hopefully by busting some myths, and using humour to beat the rumours, New Zealanders will feel more comfortable that 5G isn't something they need to worry about."
Kirstin Te Wao, head of Māori development, adds, "Part of the challenge the tech sector has is a lack of cultural diversity within key decision making roles that can translate into messaging that doesn't resonate with many of the people within our communities. Partnering with an organisation like Ngahere Communities means that we bring community concerns, voices and solutions to the fore in a meaningful way that resonates with them.
"As part of our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we're working hard to create meaningful, enduring and authentic relationships with Māori innovators and entrepreneurs like Manawa and her team."
Manawa Udy, CEO of Ngahere Communities, who led the campaign alongside her team including producer Jason Manumu'a, says, "We partnered with Vodafone on this project because we agreed with the kaupapa around more inclusive and accessible 5G education, and the concept of including our community in these bigger conversations. Too often our communities are expected to just 'get on board' with new ideas and opportunities but we need to journey through these big changes together, it helps to reduce the amount of fake news and give facts, not fiction.
"It's no secret that South Auckland is dripping with creative talent, and we were stoked to have an opportunity to get our crew together, including creator and social media influencer Torrell Tafa, to work on this project. The result is three choice videos that we hope are both engaging and informative."
Nikora Ngaropo, Member of the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand, adds, "I'm glad I've been able to bring a technology voice to this piece, as a member of the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand. I think it's important that our communities understand facts and don't get caught up in misinformation which is so easy to do these days. Also Ngahere Communities was great to work with, it's important that we have businesses involved that are connected to the pulse of our communities and know how to engage them."
The first video, focusing on explaining the potential of 5G, was shared by Torrell Tafa on Friday 20 November - with two myth-busting videos going live on Torrell's social media channels on Friday 27 November (video 2: 5G myth-buster on EMF) and Thursday 3 December (video 3: 5G myth-buster on environmental concerns).
Vodafone NZ will then share from their social media channels (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tiktok) both organically and via paid adverts, as follows:
- Video 1: 5G explainer, from 28 November
- Video 2: 5G myth-buster on EMF, from 1 December
- Video 3: 5G myth-buster on environmental concerns, from 8 December
For more information about Vodafone NZ 5G, please visit www.vodafone.co.nz/5G. For factual information about 5G, head to www.5Gfacts.org.nz, which was created by the Telecommunications Forum industry body and launched in September.
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