Politics

Opposition leaders pay for better social media viewership

Raf Sponsored

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – April 21, 2017: Paying Facebook to get more views seems to be the latest fad among opposition politicians.

Through the use of its audience network algorithm, advertisers or in this case, politicians, are able to systematically and effectively flood like-minded Facebookers with campaign materials.

An algorithm is basically a set of codes that are arranged in a specific order and is to either solve problems or discover certain patterns. The one used in Facebook allows the right contents to be delivered to the right viewers.

Such a method was believed to be so effective to the point that some in the United States credited Facebook for President Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.

Arguably, the most notable politician to have used the method in Malaysia was PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim whose statements and musings became staple sponsored stories weeks before he was sent to jail for sodomising his aide three years ago.

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua had also used the method for his bouts against 1Malaysia Development Berhad chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy last year.

Invoke Malaysia, which is a polling and electoral data analytic research centre founded by PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli early last year, admitted to using the same method.

“Facebook’s algorithm has been an instrumental tool in our Internet engagement projects,” said one of its Facebook administrators when contacted today.

“Without it, Invoke would have a hard time spreading its presence in Facebook,” he added.

Rafizi apparently had also paid Instagram, a Facebook-owned photo-application, when he shared the sponsored content to ridicule Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak three days ago.

Other opposition politicians who are believed to have used such a method for a certain periods of time in the past were DAP lawmakers Ong Kian Ming, Lim Lip Eng and Nga Kor Ming, Selangor DAP treasurer Hannah Yeoh and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.

The Mole’s checks with Facebook showed that advertising business or campaigns through the currently most popular social media is easy as ABC.

It has a flexible budget plan, whereby the advertiser can decide to pay any amount of money, choose the airtime duration of advertisements or campaigns and decide how many viewers you want seeing and/or responding to the advertisements or campaigns.

For example, a three-day campaign intended for 100 viewers would typically cost between RM250 and RM300.

Aside from being able to customise the graphical aspects of one’s campaign advertisements, advertisers who utilises Facebook’s algorithm can specify their target audience.

“If you choose accelerated delivery, we’ll deliver your ads as quickly as possible. While this option may prevent you from getting the most purely statistical value from your ads, there could be contextual value that makes it worth it,” wrote a moderator of Facebook’s Advertisers Help Centre.

“For example, if your campaign is extremely time-sensitive, there might be added value for you in getting all your ads out during a specific and short time period. In this case, the trade-off could be worth it.”

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

Despite becoming The MOLE's journalist in 2014, he still has a hard time traversing the city. If he is not lost, this northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make some sense out of the Malaysian political sphere.