Social media buzzer battlegrounds as Indonesia elections near

first_imgIndonesia`s president Joko Widodo (C) walks together with Siti Aisyah (front R) and her family after their meeting at palace in Jakarta, on 12 March 2019. Shock and delight rippled through the Indonesian town of Sindangsari on March 11 as residents got word that a local woman accused of assassinating the North Korean leader`s half-brother had been freed. Photo: AFPAlmost every day, “Janda”, a self-described Indonesian housewife with 2,000 Twitter followers, dispenses lifestyle tips, complains about city life, and praises how the government of president Joko Widodo has improved her life as a young mother.But Janda the housewife does not exist. The Twitter account’s real owner is an unmarried middle-aged man who offers political social media services backing Widodo’s re-election campaign.He is a leader of one of the many so called “buzzer” teams, named for the social media buzz such groups aim to create, that have sprung up in Indonesia ahead of the presidential election next month in the world’s third-largest democracy.”Our battleground is social media. The content we are making for the election is reaching at least a million people per week,” said the owner of the Janda account, declining to be named because his work is legally in a gray area.In interviews with Reuters, over a dozen buzzer team members, social media consultants and cyber experts described an array of social media operations that they said were spreading propaganda on behalf of both Widodo and his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto.Widodo enjoys a comfortable lead in most opinion polls over Prabowo, as the challenger is widely known. The two contested the previous election in 2014 as well, and Widodo won narrowly.Fake news was spread in that election as well, although social media was less far-reaching than it is now.Under Indonesia’s broad internet defamation law, creating and spreading fake news is illegal, but holding social media accounts in false names is not, unless a real person is being impersonated. Social media companies however mostly bar holding accounts under false names.Three buzzers directly involved in the current campaign described how they operate hundreds of personalized social media accounts each on behalf of the candidates. One denied propagating fake news, while two said they didn’t care about the accuracy of the content.Both campaign teams deny using buzzers or spreading fake news.Ross Tapsell, an expert on politics and media at Australia National University, said that it has become normal for candiates in Southeast Asia to hire online campaign strategists, who in turn tap an army of people to spread content on social media.”So there is no direct link at all to the candidate,” he said.The buzzer campaigns have far outstripped the efforts of Facebook and other social media companies to curtail creation of fake accounts and spread fake news, cyber experts say. Reuters found that while robot accounts were occasionally deleted, personalized fake accounts like “Janda” are widespread on Twitter and Facebook platforms, despite violating the companies’ rules.On the EdgeMisinformation spread by real accounts – which are often coopted by buzzer teams – is rampant on Facebook as well as on its Instagram and WhatsApp affiliates and rival service Twitter. The companies say they are working with the government and fighting back against false content.Representatives for Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp told Reuters they regularly delete fake accounts in Indonesia, but declined to share removal numbers.A Twitter spokeswoman told Reuters it is working to remove networks of accounts engaged in misinformation and disinformation.Facebook, which counts Indonesia as its third-largest market globally with an estimated 130 million accounts, says it trains election management bodies how to flag fake news to the company, which is then evaluated by moderators and deleted if it breaks its community standards.For Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara, those efforts are not enough.He said the government had asked social media companies to work with authorities to create a standard operating procedure that would allow fake news and hoaxes to be flagged and resolved. They have yet to comply.”We expect it to get much worse as we get closer to the election,” said Harry Sufehmi, co-founder of Mafindo, an Indonesian organisation fighting fake news, which listed nearly 500 social media hoaxes related to politics in 2018.He was one of three experts whose research found that a larger proportion of the misinformation targets Widodo, with some posts depicting him as anti-Islam, a Chinese stooge or a communist.All are inflammatory accusations in a country that has the world’s largest number of Muslims, where the communist party is banned and suspicions linger over the influence of Beijing.A smaller portion of the misinformation campaigns target Prabowo.Buzzing for MoneyOn a recent afternoon in Jakarta, one buzzer team leader scrolled through two mobile phones that had over 250 Facebook , Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube and Twitter accounts, each with a fake persona. He updated five of them with posts praising Widodo’s achievements or mocking Prabowo and his running mate.He denied disseminating misinformation, focusing instead on content that gushed about his clients’s virtues. But he admitted he does look for dirt on opponents as part of a “complete package” of posts and videos that he sells for 200 million rupiah ($14,000) a month.His staff of 15, whom he refers to as “cyber troops”, in turn have subcontractors, throughout Indonesia, many of whom are unaware of the ultimate identity of clients, he said.He told Reuters he was hired by an adviser to Widodo’s campaign.Ace Hasan Syadzily, a spokesman for the president’s campaign team, denied knowledge of such groups, but said “the campaign had an obligation to counter false or negative narratives” against Widodo.Another buzzer said he had been hired by advisers to Prabowo, while the third said he supplied services to a social media agency used by both campaigns.Anthony Leong, the Prabowo digital team’s coordinator, denied they use buzzer teams, noting that the campaign required its “10,000 digital volunteers” to use real names and only allowed them to post “positive content”.”Work is Fun”According to the buzzers interviewed, a junior “cyber soldier” can be paid between 1 million to 50 million rupiah per project depending on the reach of his social media accounts.”For a lot of us, the work is fun…and the salaries are decent,” said the buzzer who said he is a contractor for a social media agency used by both the Widodo and Prabowo campaigns.He said his role was to create trending topics during key election moments, using hashtags and content provided by his agency in combination with his personal fake accounts, he said.”For me, there’s no hoax or so-called negative content. The material just comes from the client,” he told Reuters.Pradipa Rasidi, a researcher at the University of Indonesia, said most buzzers are young graduates who do it “because it’s hard to find a job after university and the pay is higher”.But the legal risks are real. The buzzer activities are punishable by jail if they are judged to breach Indonesia’s internet defamation law.All three buzzers interviewed by Reuters declined to be named or provide certain details of their operations because of those risks.Policing by the social media companies, however, was not a concern: None had ever had an account or post deleted. ($1 = 14,115.0000 rupiah)last_img

You Are What They Click

first_img Enroll Now for Free 3 min read Choosing the right web-design firm or partner for your startup requires you to carefully balance several factors, including price, talent, technical expertise, availability and even personality. Making the right choice is key to establishing a clear vision for your website, fully implementing that vision, and keeping your startup on track and within budget. Provide the designers on your list with your RFP and a couple days to review it. A professional designer will return a written quote along with feedback. Compare quotes and ask the following questions: June 11, 2009 In return, the designers should ask questions about your startup’s purpose, your timeline and budget, and the scope of the project. If they seem more interested in collecting a deposit than understanding your needs, keep shopping. This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. . What is your design philosophy? It all starts with knowing what you need. Write an RFP (request for proposal) detailing your website’s purpose, audience, timeline to build, budget, technical requirements, and so on. A crystal-clear vision helps you focus only on the most qualified candidates and sets the direction for your website’s design and development.It’s also important to acknowledge your own role in the site’s development. Are you the producer, copywriter, director, hands-off client, micromanager or something else? Know your strengths and weaknesses, and find a designer who complements those qualities.Some beginners will start their searches at Elance.com or BlogDesign.com, which offer profiles of thousands of web designers, programmers and graphic artists. But that does little to focus your efforts on the right candidate. Here’s how to narrow it down: . Who is your ideal client? Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. What to ask the experts Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now . What are some websites you admire? Why? Collect referrals from colleagues, vendors and advisors.Find a website in line with your vision, contact the owner, and request the designer’s name and contact information.Once you have a list of promising candidates, ask each for references and the addresses of websites they’ve designed. Also, do some detective work to find sites they failed to mention. Once you get their references on the phone, here’s what you’ll want to ask:What was your experience with the firm/designer?Did they meet deadlines?How effectively did the designer communicate with you?Did the firm honor your budget agreement?How did they respond to requests for changes?What is your overall level of satisfaction?When you’re ready to set your budget and evaluate quotes, refer to Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines ($23.10 on Amazon.com), which is what many designers use as a starting point when pricing bids like yours.last_img read more

4 Tools That Take the Pain Out of Managing Payroll

first_imgAugust 6, 2013 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Employees love payday but, for the small-business owner, managing payroll can be a chore. Taxes, benefits, overtime, vacation days — even if you only have a few employees the process can take hours.Need a short cut? Here are four tools and apps that can help make payday a breeze:1. RUN Powered by ADPIf you’re a RUN Powered by ADP client for your payroll processing needs, you can download and use the mobile app for free. With it you can pay employees and contractors, calculate taxes and deductions, enter vacation and sick time and see your payroll totals at a glance. Employees can also use the mobile website to check their own paystubs.RUN is available for iOS and Android.2. SurePayroll Mobile PayrollBusiness owners who use the SurePayroll processing service can download the SurePayroll Mobile Payroll app for iOS and Android. The app has the same features as RUN from ADP but SurePayroll, a wholly owned subsidiary of Paychex, says theirs has a one-click payroll option that makes payday even easier.It also offers SurePayroll Mobile Paycheck, an employee companion app that allows your workers to view their paycheck details and keep track of available vacation time and sick leave.Only clients of SurePayroll can access the SurePayroll Mobile Payroll app. Paychex clients have access to a separate app with similar features, the Paychex Mobile app.Related: Easy Tools for Cleaning Up Your Email Inbox3. ZenefitsFor companies, with a lot of employee turnover, Zenefits is a paperwork life saver. The company’s roots are in health benefits. It negotiates insurance packages for businesses and handles all of the applications including the paperwork associated with new hires and terminations.Earlier this year, the company expanded its service to include all of the paperwork involved in hiring — from the offer letter to the contract, to collecting all of the personal information HR needs. All the employer has to do is fill in five boxes of information online and Zenefits does the rest.The charge for this time-saving service? Zero dollars. They’re licensed insurance brokers so they receive a commission from the insurance company on every employee and not a dime from you.4. Snap PayrollIf you’re a small company and you still write payroll checks by hand, check out Snap Payroll from Intuit.Load employee names and their hourly wage at the start. Then, each week, all you have to do is enter the hours worked and Snap Payroll figures out rest. The app automatically updates tax rates for 47 states but it does not handle healthcare or retirement deductions.It’s a basic tool that’s just right for the small-business owner with a few, part-time employees. Best of all, it’s free for iOS.Related: Free Apps to Help You Network Like a Pro Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 3 min read Register Now »last_img read more

Mozilla developers have built BugBug which uses machine learning to triage Firefox

first_imgYesterday the team at Mozilla announced that the company is receiving hundreds of bug reports and feature requests from Firefox users on a daily basis. The team noted that it’s important to get the bugs fixed as soon as possible for the smooth functioning of the systems. Also, the developers should quickly come to know that there is a bug in order to fix it. Bug triage, a process where tracker issues are screened and prioritised can be useful in such cases. However, even when developers come to know that bugs exist in the system, it is still difficult for the developers to closely look at each bug. The team at Mozilla has been using Bugzilla since years now which is a web-based general-purpose bugtracker and testing tool that group the bugs by product. But product assignment or the grouping process was done manually by the developers so this process failed to scale. Now Mozilla is experimenting with Machine Learning to train systems to triage bugs. BugBug It’s important to get the bugs in the eye of the right set of engineers, for which the team at Mozilla developed BugBug, a machine learning tool that assigns a product and component automatically for every new untriaged bug. By bringing the bugs into the radar of the triage owners, the team at Mozilla has made an effort towards decreasing the turnaround time to fix new issues. Training the BugBug model Mozilla has a large training set of data for this model which includes two decades worth of bugs that have been reviewed by Mozillians and assigned to products and components. The bug data can’t be used as-is and any change to the bug after triage would create trouble during operation. So the team at Mozilla rolled back the bug to the time it was originally filed. Out of 396 components, 225 components had more than 49 bugs filed in the past 2 years. During operation, the team performed the assignment when the model was confident enough of its decision and currently, the team is using a 60% confidence threshold. Ever since the team has deployed BugBug in production at the end of February 2019, they have triaged around 350 bugs. The median time for any developer to act on triaged bugs is 2 days. Usually, 9 days is the average time to act, but with BugBug the Mozilla team took just 4 days to remove the outliers. Mozilla plans to use Machine learning in the future The Mozilla team has planned to use machine learning to assist in other software development processes, such as identifying duplicate bugs, providing automated help to developers, and detecting the bugs important for a Firefox release. The team plans to extend BugBug to automatically assign components for other Mozilla products. To know more about this news, check out the post by Mozilla. Read Next Mozilla is exploring ways to reduce notification permission prompt spam in Firefox Mozilla launches Firefox Lockbox, a password manager for Android Mozilla’s Firefox Send is now publicly available as an encrypted file sharing servicelast_img read more