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Archive for June 2015

Opinion Analysis on Breakup of Pakatan Rakyat by Users in Malaysia

1. Background

On June 16th 2015 the Democratic Action Party (DAP) released a statement saying that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) ceases to exist following the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) Muktamar’s motion to sever ties with DAP [1]. The DAP also pledged to work with PKR and any other parties to defeat Barisan Nasional (BN).

On June 17th 2015 Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) released a statement saying that Pakatan Rakyat no longer functions formally [2]. PKR also stated that they would work to build a coalition to defeat BN.

In the days that followed there was confusion on whether Pakatan Rakyat as a coalition was truly dead. This is illustrated by the following public statements by component party leaders:

  • June 18th: PAS Elections Director Datuk Mustafa Ali stated that PAS was not dead, only ‘fainted’ [3]
  • June 19th: PAS President Hadi Awang declared that PR was not dead [4]
  • June 20th: DAP Parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang responded by saying PR was dead [5]
  • June 20th: PKR Deputy Youth Chief insists that PR is not dead [6]

Currently the Opposition-held state governments of Kelantan, Selangor and Penang appear to be continuing as state-level coalition governments. Whether the coalitions will continue to use ‘Pakatan Rakyat’ to refer to themselves is unclear.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 475 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about Pakatan Rakyat, its component parties and related terms from June 16th – June 20th 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.5%.

Users were selected based on their tweet content and activity during this period. Sampling was done per-state based on the current estimated user population.

Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample.
From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.

Our goal was to gauge public reaction by Twitter users in Malaysia to the breakup of Pakatan Rakyat.

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Written by politweet

June 29, 2015 at 3:43 pm

The Conversation About Farah Ann and Aurat on Twitter

1. Background

On June 10th 2015 national gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi won a gold medal for Malaysia at the SEA Games [1]. Following her victory a photo of her striking a pose was shared on Buletin TV3’s Facebook page which drew criticism. Muslim users began commenting that she was exposing her aurat (intimate areas) by wearing a leotard. Other Muslim users said it is wrong to criticise her. This debate started to play out online.

On June 12th news broke about people criticising Farah’s attire [2]. This prompted more users to join the conversation. On June 13th Farah Ann hit back at her critics saying, “Empty cans make the most noise” [3].

Remarks about Farah Ann and aurat continued over the next few days.

2. Connections between Two Conversations

Unlike our previous analyses, examining the tweets about Farah Ann was challenging. This is because many people were tweeting about her without mentioning her name e.g. talking about gymnasts and Islam. There were also insufficient users tweeting about the topic who were present in our current database of Twitter users based in Malaysia.

When we looked at tweets that mention her specifically it was largely comprised of people supporting her, especially tweets in English. When we examined tweets about aurat, a pattern emerged where tweets about aurat increased following the news story. There appeared to be a connection.

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Written by politweet

June 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Analyses, Social Media

Tagged with , , ,

Response to Najib Razak’s Absence at #Nothing2Hide Event by Twitter Users in Malaysia

1. Background

A dialogue between Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and non-government organisations (NGO) was scheduled to be held at PWTC on Friday, June 5th 2015 (9 am – 11 am) [1]. The event was organised by the Malaysian Volunteer Lawyers Association (SukaGuam) and titled, #Nothing2Hide. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir was also expected to attend [2].

Minutes before the event was due to start, the IGP announced that the event was cancelled to ensure public order [3]. Despite that the audience stayed on even after confirmation that the PM would not be attending [4].

Rumours started circulating on Twitter that the PM was ‘scared’ of Tun Dr.Mahathir, who took to the stage at 10.33 AM [5]. Minutes later, the police asked him to stop and prevented him from continuing. This sparked further outrage online.

At 5.17 PM, Najib Razak tweeted a statement saying that he was ready to have a dialogue with NGOs provided it was held in a peaceful environment [6]. Remarks about Najib Razak and #Nothing2Hide continued over the next few days.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 1000 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about the #Nothing2Hide event, Najib Razak and related terms from June 5th – June 8th 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

Users were selected based on their tweet content and activity during this period. Sampling was done per-state based on the current estimated user population.

Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample.

From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.

Our goal was to gauge the response by users in Malaysia to the Prime Minister not showing up at the event. We focused our analysis on their opinion of the PM and their general response to his absence at the event. Opinions about Tun Dr. Mahathir were not included as part of the detailed analysis.

Based on this analysis we categorised users as belonging to one of the following categories:

  1. Positive
  2. Neutral
  3. Negative (general)
  4. Negative (directed to @NajibRazak)

The results are shown in the following chart:

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Written by politweet

June 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Opinion Analysis on Rohingya Refugees by Twitter Users in Malaysia

1. Background

On May 7th news broke online of the discovery of human trafficking camps along the Malaysia-Thailand border [1]. This was followed by news of Rohingya refugees landing in Indonesia and Malaysia on May 11th [2].

In the days that followed images of overcrowded boats filled with Rohingya refugees spread across social media along with news of their plight and suffering. This was combined with news that Malaysia turned the boats away.

This prompted a conversation online that developed over the following weeks over what should be done about the refugees at sea and who was responsible for their current plight.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 418 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about the Rohingya refugees and related terms from May 7th – May 22nd 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.79%.

Users were selected based on their tweet content and activity during this period. Sampling was done per-state based on the current estimated user population.

Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample.

From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.

Our goal was to gauge public opinion by Malaysian users on the Rohingya refugees stranded at sea, focused on 2 questions:

  1. What should be done?
  2. Who should be responsible?

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Written by politweet

June 10, 2015 at 2:18 am

Emergence of Dedicated Spamming Apps in Malaysian Politics

In previous articles published on our blog we have described various spamming strategies used in Malaysian politics:

Some of these strategies are still in use today. Some key points about spam:

  • Spamming involves repeating the same tweet or retweeting another user’s tweet across one or more accounts within a certain time period.
  • Spamming is a violation of Twitter’s own rules for users (that you can read at https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules ). They list various factors that determine spamming behaviour one of which is, “If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account”. ‘Updates’ refer to tweets and retweets.
  • Spammer accounts are identifiable via their behaviour on Twitter e.g. follower/following relationships; timeline content; tweet timestamp patterns. Tweet frequency, repetition and collaborative behaviour are the main traits we look for.
  • Twitter accounts are being used for personal use and spamming. This lends the appearance of a normal human Twitter user for anyone looking at their timeline and a denial when accused of sending spam.
  • Some Twitter accounts are dedicated to spamming and have no personal messages of any kind.
  • Some Twitter accounts have a block of spam in their timeline but otherwise appear normal. This means they only spammed tweets briefly. It is possible their login credentials were being used without their knowledge.
  • Spamming does not always involve automation via applications. Humans using mobile devices to repeatedly send identical messages across multiple accounts can still be identified.
  • It takes a computerised system to analyse and identify these users and their tweets and categorise spam.

Developing spam detection systems is necessary for us due to the frequent use of spam in Malaysian politics. Spammers who retweet other tweets are problematic for 4 main reasons:

  • They increase the retweet counter for the tweet, making people believe that tweet was popular
  • By retweeting instead of tweeting, users who are searching on a keyword or hashtag won’t see the spamming accounts. This means people who use Twitter won’t discover this activity unless they happen to find the spammer in the list of recent retweeting users for the tweet.
  • The retweet counter is not guaranteed to decrease if the spammer is suspended or deleted.
  • It is harder to prove to non-technical users that the account is a spammer. Direct links to the spammer’s tweet will redirect to the tweet that they retweeted, which is a detail they may overlook. The best way to show evidence to the public is for them to visit the spammer’s timeline and judge for themselves.

All timestamps used in this article have been adjusted for the UTC+8 time zone.

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Written by politweet

June 1, 2015 at 12:51 pm