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2019 Elections: Reopening the Pandora’s Box


It would seem that Xavier Duval has reopened the Pandora’s box as regards the conduct and organisation of the 2019 elections by the Electoral Commission (EC) with his assertion pertaining to the alleged use of the Social Media Analytics Cloud (SMAC) software by the EC for the last elections – a software that would allow for the profiling of electors. This has been denied by the Electoral Commissioner Irfan Rahman in a press communique, statingthat the Leader of the Opposition would be making ” misleading claims”. “The indisputable facts are as follows: No such software has been acquired, nor is it used by the Office of the Electoral Commissioner or the Electoral Supervisory Commission in connection with the voter database,” he said. Not to be so easily dismissed, Xavier Duval responded to the EC’s denial by referring to the State Informatics Ltd’s communique, as published on its website, indicating its successful completion of the EC’s project “to upgrade its software application using the latest technology that can support SMAC”.

After the discrepancies noted in the Recapitulation of Votes forms with respect to the election in Constituency No. 19, revealed two years after the last elections by the EC itself (that is, on 13 January 2022 when the electoral petition case lodged on 28 November 2019 by unreturned candidate Jenny Adebirocame up for hearing),the opacity surrounding the operation of Computer Rooms at Counting Centres, the alleged use of social media analytics is a matter of serious concern. The literature relating to social media analytics informs us that the use that’s made of it is drawn from its ‘ability to gather and find meaning in data gathered from social channels to support business decisions’. That’s not all, since in 2018, a popular social networking site came under heavy fire from US regulators after it was found that a third-party vendor had collected data of users illegally and which was then used to influence the outcome of the US 2016 presidential elections.The attraction in social analytics is said to be its ability to ‘simplify data from dozens of networks, millions of people and a variety of activities’ giving a far deeper understanding of user behaviour and demographic data than Google Analytics ever could.Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 27 May 2022

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