Data analytics is now seen as an indispensable tool in election campaigns. However, its role in shaping voters’ choices has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. To what extent are the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan coalitions engaged in using big data and what are their fi ndings showing? Here’s a look at the rival operations.

SINGAPORE (Apr 9): A few weeks ago, right after news broke that UK-based Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal data about Facebook users to sway votes in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the UK, this writer met up with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Rafizi Ramli for an interview. He is also head of Invoke Malaysia, the opposition’s machinery that uses big data analytics to help secure wins for their candidates in marginal seats.

The meeting was held at Invoke’s three- storey shoplot office in Sungai Besi. Sparsely furnished, with clear glass partitions for walls, about 80 staff work here, all young and tech-savvy, with digital marketing or research-related backgrounds. The average age was around 26, and all of them were working with data gleaned from voters via polls conducted on Facebook and telephone polls by about 20,000 volunteers.

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