Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

This week social media surprised me. A post of mine in Facebook went viral and received almost thousands of views and comments across Facebook and Whatsapp groups, as well as some direct action taken as a result of my message, a few police reports followed. See here.

The FB post was trying to achieve a very specific goal – to find out if there is any the truth about and ongoing rumour in Kota Kinabalu that a cop was beaten up by a Senior Minister from the Party Warisan Sabah Government. The Senior Minister has a bad reputation and a history of beating up people. What I heard could not be dismissed as rumours because of the Senior Minister’s reputation where even his own sister had in the past lodged a report that he threatened her with a pistol, it was reported in the newspapers. Just like the Lido Kapitan Cina Case – alleged assault of the 62-year-old man at the Lido commercial area.

I resolved to find out if the rumour was true. Not allegation but only questioning if there is any truth in the story, nothing wrong. My next step was Facebook.

I learnt that one way to get your content to “move” (ie. be seen, heard and shared widely), is to be more human.

Well, this theory proved true when the Facebook post I wrote, went viral, a breakthrough for me at last! And it only took me 20 minutes to write the post.

Here’s the story and I want to share it with you as an example of how to write content that moves, so you can put this theory to the test as well.

I wrote the post about my concerns when I heard that a Senior Minister from Party Warisan had beaten up a cop. I was honest and raw, and guess what?

The post (you can read it here) was shared no less than 270 times on social media. It was viewed by more than 2120 people at last count, attracted several comments and incited hot debate both on Whatsapp and on Facebook where the post also attracted increased engagement and comments.

Why This FB Post Attracted High Engagement?

I’ve been writing posts for a long time now, and some fare better than others in terms of engagement, but usually I spend hours carefully crafting each post. This one? 20 minutes!

While I didn’t deliberately set out to be controversial, but I did take a deep breath when I hit Post, because I realized I had exposed something about a Senior Minister a Politician and that was risky. People might judge me harshly… and a couple of people did. And then, three police reports were made against me.

You know what though? Many, many more people wrote to me, both on and off social media, to say how much they support me.

So what made this post move?

  • It was human. I showed my take on an issue, warts and all. The reason I wrote the post was because of a genuine concerned for the image of the police and that it should be protected.
  • I told a story. People love and relate to real life stories.
  • I didn’t water it down. I ignored that little voice in my head that said: “You can’t Post that!” I simply said what a lot of other people were thinking.

How can you create content that moves? Be brave, don’t shy away from controversy and be prepared to answer your critics…they will come. Perhaps that’s why it was discovered that over the years, 25 plus police reports made against this Senior Minister for assault and threatening with a pistol was withdrawn.

Below is the FB post which got me into trouble…..

The skeletons are still tumbling out. It has become clear that Facebook is now one of the biggest threats to the western liberal democracy. This is the message from the latest scandal that the company, along with data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, finds itself embroiled in. The story is still linked to Russia meddling in the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump racing ahead of Hillary Clinton. But around two years after the talk of this meddling started, the contours of the whole operation are coming into sharper focus. And it is in this big picture we meet Cambridge Analytica.

A lot has been said about how Cambridge Analytica worked with the Trump camp to target US voters and how it got data to build psychological profiles of voters from Facebook, so I am going to keep it short. But here is the takeaway: the data that Facebook has on people, and the way this data can be used to build very detailed profiles of people — including their socio-economic conditions, their orientation, their fears, their desires and their political leanings — give companies like Facebook or whoever uses this data an unprecedented leeway. It gives people, companies and organisations that have this data the ability to impact elections in very direct and nefarious ways.

The scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica angered regulators and lawmakers in the US and Europe. In the US, senators are leading fresh inquiries into just how much Facebook, which probably knows its users better than the users themselves, is responsible for the US presidential debacle.

fb-690_032018060558.jpg It gives people, companies and organisations that have this data the ability to impact elections in very direct and nefarious ways. Photo: AP

The regulators in the UK are probing Cambridge Analytica and its role in BREXIT vote, in which against all expectations “leave” triumphed over “remain”. The European regulators are taking a fresh look at whether Facebook violated the EU privacy laws or not by allowing its data to be used by Cambridge Analytica.

There are calls to regulate Facebook and streamline its privacy policies. There are calls to force Mark Zuckerberg, one of the most powerful persons in the world right now given how much private data his company has on nearly two billion people, to testify in senate hearings.

But even as the rest of the democratic world takes a look at the threat Facebook is posing to the functional democracy, in Malaysia there is no talk on this matter. The Election Commission is either turning a blind eye to it or is probably woefully ignorant about the ways in which foreign countries can use Facebook to influence elections in Malaysia. It’s not unthinkable. Russians allegedly used Facebook to influence the US elections. There are signs that BREXIT too was a vote that was influenced with social media campaigns.

In fact, Cambridge Analytica has said on record that it has worked with political parties for elections in Malaysia. CA Political Global managing director Mark Turnbull had revealed to an undercover Channel 4 reporter that the firm did work in Malaysia. On its website, CA says it “supported BN in Kedah state with a targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008”. BN took back Kedah from the opposition in GE13, winning 21 out of 36 state seats, and 10 out of 15 parliamentary seats.

It reportedly worked with the Barisan National, with help of its Malaysian partner in Kedah in the 2013 GE13 and got a success rate of 90 per cent on the seats for which it provided inputs.

Yet, in Malaysia, the Election Commission is not looking at how Facebook, or for that matter social media and tools like WhatsApp, can be used by outsiders or by people with dubious aims to influence elections. May be it is already happening. If the presidential election in the US has been influenced by outsiders, what guarantee do we have that some country hasn’t tried to shape elections in Malaysia using Facebook or WhatsApp?

The process with which voters can be targeted to influence an election unfairly has been made very easy due to all the data collected by Facebook. And the company, so far, has been fairly cavalier about sharing this data. If you are an advertiser, Facebook is mostly more than happy to share even the most private details of its users with you. If you wave money, it will even let you micro-target the voters so that you can influence their franchise.

The Election Commission in Malaysia is supposed to guard elections from exactly the kind of threat that Facebook poses. There is a reason why exit polls in Malaysia have to be made public only after voting has ended. There is a reason why during the campaigning there exists a model code of conduct. There is a reason why politicians can’t say some things in their speeches, or political parties can’t induce people by giving them money on voting day.

But using Facebook and WhatsApp, chances are that political parties, or for that matter even actors outside Malaysia, can bypass the model code of conduct and break the whole democracy. Facebook data, in a way, can let political parties and organisations play on the fears of the voters, instead of their hopes. It can help politicians reach deep within the minds of voters, using algorithms and big data. In tech parlance, you can say that it can let parties and organisations hack into the minds of voters, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal shows that this can be done by just collecting and analysing the likes and videos that people post on Facebook.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a wake-up call. The lessons from the last US election were alarming, but the latest scandal involving Facebook shows just how badly social media is damaging democracy. It’s time for Malaysia to have a conversation about big data, how it influences elections, the micro-targeting of voters and just how much control Facebook should be allowed to have over people’s lives.

We need to have this conversation now because in the next 100 days or so we will be voting in the general election – GE14

The social network, more than any other technology tool, was singled out on Friday by the Justice Department when prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three companies for executing a scheme to subvert the 2016 election and support Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. In a 37-page indictment, officials detailed how the Russians repeatedly turned to Facebook and Instagram, often using stolen identities to pose as Americans, to sow discord among the electorate by creating Facebook groups, distributing divisive ads and posting inflammatory images.

The special counsel’s indictment detailed how crucial Facebook and Instagram were to the Russian campaign to disrupt the presidential election.

(A Facebook picture shows Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri being served turtle eggs allegedly at the Restoran Indah Keranamu in Sandakan which went viral)

Media has always been a significant pillar of society. Media doesn’t just report happenings, it also builds public opinion. This puts the media in a powerful position in a democracy and wherever there is power there is a chance of misuse of that power.

In some countries, powerful media houses are said to have influenced election results by portraying people and events a certain way. In Malaysia too.

The media space has changed a lot with the emergence of social media. With social media, the public has eyes and ears everywhere. They are not limited to camera crews of a few TV channels or reporters of a few newspapers.

Social media is a platform that showcases public opinion such that it cannot be easily doctored. It reflects the pulse of society. Even traditional media channels keep an eye on ongoing social media trends.

In the recent past, we have seen so many top news stories originate from social media. Apart from highlighting issues that are socially relevant and crucial, social media has also exposed the disconnect between the government and the population. People are more aware of what our leaders are up to and exchange notes on how laws and policies affecting them are being made. Gone are the days when the government could pass laws behind closed doors without the public realising it for months. Thanks to the social media, discussion on political issues and implications is widespread and immediate.

Some politicians thrive on keeping communities apart and playing one’s interests over the other to secure their votebanks. As boundaries between people blur over social media, and they become more aware and better informed, this will no longer be easy to do. One needs to be more aware and alert while making speeches or statements. People see through any gimmick done with an ulterior motive and any sign of a narrow mindset comes in for severe criticism, just like the ‘kafir harbi’ issue.

Like all powerful tools, social media should also be used with utmost care and responsibility failing which it can cause damage to the society. In the recent terror attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey, terrorists used social media widely to plan and execute their attacks, 42 people were killed and injured hundreds of others. More recently, in Sabah, The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), headed by Huguan Siou Joseph Pairin Kitingan had to lodge a police report against the “Majlis Himpunan Rakyat Membantah Penarikan MyKad” (Council of the Gathering of Citizens to Protest the Withdrawal of the MyKad) which was planing to hold an anti-RCI event in Kota Kinabalu on May 31, a poster on the event circulating in social media went viral, social media was used to spread panic and fear among Sabahans leading to the police report.

However, with its potential to bring people together, social media also holds immense promise as a tool for social change. We have recently seen many successfully executed protests organised over social media that have made the right impact,like Bersih the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, for the first time, the act of mass civil disobedience ran for 34 hours in Kuala Lumpur. Another application of social media could be to effectively utilize the vast diversity of human resource that Sabah has which is still lying untapped. For instance, in my SIB (Sidang Injil Borneo) church, somebody announces a dental camp in a locality on a date and others join, including doctors, dentist, dental nurses and even pharmacist. Likewise, somebody announces a tree planting drive or a cleaning drive and people support the initiative with their time or resources.

We are clearly passing through a phase of transformation. Sabah is a nation of youth who have a big role to play in that transformation.

Social media is a medium that connects them and gives them voice. This voice is growing louder. It is a welcome sign and I’m really glad Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has embrace the social media in a big way and he is very active on Facebook and Twitter and WhatsApp groups, and he regularly updates events and photos.

The pioneer in world of cyber journalism in Malaysia or even South East Asia is the Late MGG Pillai and his mailing list – discussion forum “Sang Kancil”, years before the likes of Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today were even established. My respects for him and I consider him my Guru!

Before social media, journalists had very little tools to “listen” to the people – the audience. It was mostly through polls, emails, etc. Now, you have a slew of online communities that allow journalists to keep their hands on the pulse of what’s going on. Social Media has also allowed the people to directly connect and humanize the journalists who were mostly kept behind the veiled publication without much control and influence (except for a PR person).

Now, it’s created a two way channel for the people and journalists to connect. While a lot of journalists and publications are moving in light speed to capture mind share, connect, and engage via tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+Hangout, the very core essence of journalism cannot be forgotten.

Journalists are entrusted by the public to tell the story in an objective manner with credible sources and provide information that is both educational and insightful. Journalists have a duty to the public to tell the story using various channels via blogs, etc. but ensure the story is credible, factual, and compelling. While Social Media may have changed the fundamentals of communication and delivery, the core foundation of journalism cannot be mistaken or forgotten

When one talks about social media, it’s a three level approach:

First – to disseminate information to relevant target audience at the right time, using the right channel.
Second – to engage target audience by relating and ‘connecting’ to them.
Third – to generate loyal ambassadors in a way that they represent you in the good sense among other target audience and answer on your behalf thus building a credible image.

The potential of social media to provide opportunities to ‘convert’ is huge but it requires strategising and extensive planning.

Anwar Ibrahim, has sure emerged as the star of Malaysian Politics through social media. With his blog, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ Hangout, he seems to have been in the news and has been the trending topic on most social media for awhile. This seems to have given a sudden twist in the ability of social media to reach the right target audience. While Umno and Barisan National at one time mocked and even said that social media is for people who have got nothing better to do and have doubted the ability of Social Media to reach their target audience, today they play a different tune after Anwar Ibrahim has proved a point. Najib Tun Razak is also trying hard with his Facebook, Twitter and his recent Goggle+hangout, but sad to say he is yet there.

This is the first time in Malaysian Politics that anybody has attempted to reach out to Malaysians on social media and we must say, what a campaign! The team behind Anwar Ibrahim’s campaign seems to have researched well and they have splurged content on all social media where it matters. They are on Twitter, Facebook, G+, some of the top social networking sites and they are in touch with the right set of influencers in the online world to extensively talk about Anwar’s campaign in the digital medium. The campaign is brilliant and they do the updating of information on the go and they ensure that they have researched the potential of all features of the top social networking sites and use it to their advantage. While most other political parties are harping on being first people to adopt social media, we are yet to see a campaign of this magnitude that effectively utilizes relevant features of social media.

So, has this campaign proved to be the best social media campaign in Malaysia? In some ways yes, this is the first campaign of its kind where there has been an effective utilization of digital medium in such a magnitude. The reach is significant and the design brilliant. However the effort is yet to spill over to the next levels – engagement. The campaign has just begun, but will it hold the audience glued? The Facebook posts are great but the comments are yet to be monitored and catered to. There are several comments that need to be addressed, but it does not look like anybody cares. Facebook does provide the opportunity to convert people but Najib Tun Razak’s team is yet to use it fully to their benefit. Going by number of fans or number of people talking about the page as a metric to determine popularity, is now passé. The number of people talking about the page could be phenomenal, but how many are talking positive and helping spread political awareness is the question, specially his 1Malaysia. But as Facebook users know all too well, a “fan” may not always be a fan and a “friend” may not always be a friend. And sometimes “likes” is just a five letter word.

Najib should remember, starting is 50% of work done. But will Najib’s team deliver the other half? Even though his has been a brilliant campaign with the help of APCO Worldwide, but there are signs of fading, unless of course there is constant innovation in reaching the target audience online. What has happened so far is the mandate of his social media presence. His group has failed to cross the first level – appropriate presence. The second level of engagement is to ‘connect’ and cater to audience in real time, the magic to move towards conversion. This level is yet to be achieved in Najib’s campaign.

The impact on netizans of this ‘move towards social media’ could be several, but the impact on Malaysian Politics and on Malaysia is immeasurable. The next thing we know is, Malaysian politicians embarrassing social media to make their impact. This is an era where you could clearly say – a politician is a fool to not have a social media presence! The politicians will be forced to take to social media and we might see a new breed of net savvy politicians who have the presence of mind to ‘connect’ in the real sense. The web 2.0 (now moving to 3.0) experience will force politicians to at least move towards what is right if not ‘do what is right’.

With mobile phones are already showing high penetration, politicians and government will ensure that there is internet connectivity at every corner in Malaysia so that they are able to at least present their messages if not ‘interact’. Rais Yatim should wake up and do better on the internet connectivity in Sabah which is only 30% and Barisan National should stop blowing their trumpets saying Sabah being the “fixed Deposit. Rais Yatim does zilch to improve the internet connectivity in Sabah!

Just because people respond to you through social media — by liking and friending and following you — that does not mean their virtual support will always translate into actual support, Rais Yatim!

Woaw! it seems Facebook has now acquired Israeli facial recognition firm for an undisclosed amount in a bid to strengthen its photo-sharing platform.’s software is used for facial recognition on photos loaded on its websites and through mobile applications. Founder Gil Hirsh said on his blog “Facebook has acquired”.

The announcement comes about two months after Facebook shelled out $1 billion for photo-sharing service firm Instagram.

Although financial details of the deals were not disclosed, media reports have pegged the transaction in the range of $60 million to $100 million.

Announcing the deal, Mr. Hirsh said, “Facebook is a part of your life every single day. We keep up with our friends and family, share interesting (or mundane) experiences from our daily lives, and perhaps most importantly for us, we share a lot of photos”.’s apps scan billions of photos monthly, and have helped tag hundreds of millions of faces. It helps people to tag their own photos quickly and easily, and discover photos of themselves and their friends that they never knew existed.

The two recent acquisitions by Facebook, which has over 900 million users across the world, suggest that the social networking firm is taking huge interest in strengthening its photo-sharing platform.

In a bid to improve security on Facebook, the social networking website is asking each of its more than 900 million active users to provide it with their mobile phone numbers.

The move comes in the wake of much-publicised password hacks at other networking sites including LinkedIn and eHarmony, the Daily Mail reported.

Millions of Facebook users have already seen a link at the top of their desktop news feed requesting them to follow simple security tips.

Those that click on the link are led to the site’s security page, where they are asked to pick a unique password and given a tutorial on how to spot an online scam.

They are then requested to provide their phone number for secure account recovery.

This, Facebook claims, works because when a user confirms their phone number it allows the site to automatically wipe their password in the event of their account being hacked.

The social network would then send a text message to the user informing that their password has been changed.

This, the site reasons, would be preferable to sending the user and email because many of these are ignored as assumed junk and get deleted.

Facebook said the desktop security message, already seen by millions of users in the U.S., will be on all accounts in the next few days.

The Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nastional, in an effort to target the youth and first time voters in the state, are leaving no stones unturned to outsmart each other in the usage of Information Technology tools.

Though, the Pakatan Rakyat clearly seems to have the edge right now, Barisan claims that it is fast catching up.

Malaysia has changed a lot since 2008 General Elections, and a lot of myths regarding ‘high-tech campaigns not translating into votes’ will be shattered this time around. This seems to be the mood in Pakatan Rakyat’s IT Cell in Kuala Lumpur, which is drawing its inspiration from Barack Obama’s heavily Internet-loaded Presidential campaign in November 2008.

The State IT Cell of Pakatan has a core team of 10 in Sabah, with 20 cyber teams spread across the state, to aid the core team. In addition, the party has notched up a database of one hundred thousand email ids for bulk-emailing; and about 125,000 mobile phone numbers for bulk messaging, caller tunes, ring tones and various other mobile services solutions.

The state unit also has links with websites namely, Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini,, Sabahkini, SAPP blog, Sabah DAP, Pakatan Rakyat Sabah and Anwar; with the help party workers and Pakatan sympathizers, videos containing speeches of Pakatan leaders will also be uploaded on video sharing sites like IT Cell In-charge Phua added,” Our presence is also significant in various social networking sites. For example, there are about 213 Facebook and hundreds of twitter users and communities on Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang and even Tok Guru Nik Aziz and Sabah state leaders from Pakatan.

Pakatan Rakyat is also planning a public rally around the state, “which will be attended by Facebook users and communities, not necessarily party workers,” added Phua.

When Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on his party to close ranks and prepare to go for war ahead of next week’s Umno general assembly, widely expected to be the last before the next general election; it didnt surprise me because I know Najib is going on a all out cyber attack on the opposition. And UMNO leader even announced that Barisan would be setting up hundreds of Internet Kiosks across the country, to promote an online campaign for enrolling youth into the party as well as inform them about the Barisan’s achievement, it surprised many. But the ‘Najib’ factor has definitely lifted the spirits in Malaysia, at least in the IT initiatives.

In addition, UMNO has also tied up with a number of .com to publish poll related articles as well as carry out live opinion polls. And UMNO source informed,” We have tied-up with various Internet service providers to pitch UMNO and Barisan links as sponsored links in 100’s of websites that witness the maximum traffic over a period of time.”

The party is also targeting a large fraction of tele-density in the state for mobile service solutions like caller tunes, ring tones, screensavers etc. Other initiatives like bulk emailing and bulk-messaging are also in the pipeline.

Regarding social networking in the cyber world, UMNO also has many Facebook users on Najib Tun Razak. These are maintained by the younger lot.

And as far as Sabah is concern, Musa Aman’s government which has promoted good governance and development centric with impeccable credentials will be a selling point in the cyber front.