Dr M: The Rich Can Use Big Data to Influence Voters to Hero-Worship Crooks

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Those with deep pockets can use big data to manipulate the minds of voters in political campaigns, and ultimately even influence them into glorifying and worshipping a crook as a hero, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Dr Mahathir explained that the collection of comprehensive data on individuals would enable data analysts to determine what the individual and ultimately a certain society’s likes and dislikes, noting that this would then enable the influencing of the thoughts of individuals.

Dr Mahathir said an example of how such information would be useful would be when businesses want to promote their goods, noting that the process of using big data could be successful to the extent where consumers buy items that they do not want simply because they were influenced by advertisements based on the understanding of the consumers’ behaviour.

“This big data is also useful in politics. The analysis of big data by experts will identify what can control the thoughts of voters, for example. With this knowledge, campaigns can be held so that voters are attracted and support,” the former prime minister wrote on his blog today.

Dr Mahathir went on to highlight how big data could be used to manipulate election outcomes.


“In the past, we frequently see bad candidates getting support and winning. Campaigns based on big data research can make a crook get glory and support. The public can forget the wickedness of someone and turn them into a hero who is worshipped,” he said, without naming any individuals.

He then said big data could be used to create an effect akin to pukau or hypnosis, which he said in the traditional sense would be when a person would do abnormal things without being bashful due to influence from an unknown power.

With detailed and broad information, or big data, about an individual or even a group comprising details such as their preference for food, shopping, sports, travel and entertainment choices, Dr Mahathir said such data could be analysed by computers to determine their personalities that would enable a strategy to be formed to achieve a goal.

Based on the use of such big data, a modern hypnosis effect based on science and psychology could then be seen where an individual or a group acts out of the norm due to the grasp on their behaviour.

Dr Mahathir said the analysis of big data by experts comes with a high cost, with only those who are rich able to afford to pay for such services, but said this would not deter the rich from forking out such funds.

“But for those who have interests and money, getting the services of big data analyst experts is still worth it. Think about it, through this method, thieves can become heroes who are worshipped,” he said, again without naming any individual or group.

In the same blog post, Dr Mahathir mentioned Cambridge Analytica as an outfit which provided such services of analysing big data. The British firm was infamous for allegedly obtaining data on millions of Facebook users without their permission.

In March 2018, Cambridge Analytica was reported to have allegedly done election work in Malaysia, but the Prime Minister’s Office — when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the prime minister — had at that time denied that his administration or the Barisan Nasional (BN) or had ever engaged or paid the company.

In January this year, leaked documents appeared to show past attempts by Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group to offer its services to BN to campaign in the 2018 general elections. – MMO