NOVEMBER 25 — Paid tweets aren't a new thing. What is new, however, is our politicians buying them to boost their public image.
Yesterday, a tweet from the account @JatIkhwan showing Zuraida Kamaruddin cycling in a park went viral for the wrong reasons.
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The Twitter account's caption made it seem as though the user just happened to meet Zuraida in the park, minus an entourage, and thus the opportunity was taken to greet her.
It wasn't long before the tweet's authenticity was questioned as the situation just seemed a little too ludicrous.
After relentless mockery, the tweet was deleted but not before plenty of screencaps were taken.
A little while later, the account confessed that it was a paid tweet and the user claimed he had been given a template and was paid for the work, and that he had not met Zuraida in person.
The Twitter account is a fairly popular one, with over 100,000 followers and apparently taking money for sponsored tweets.
Ethical questions arise — if the tweet was sponsored, shouldn't the account have divulged it? Another question: is it even ethical for Malaysian politicians to hire the equivalent of cybertroopers to stage photo ops?
Where did the funding for said tweet come from? Was it from Zuraida's own funds? Was it part of a PR campaign for her office? Is it actually part of an overall PR strategy for Bersatu?
What is clear is that paying someone to tweet nice things about you makes sense if you're a corporation and what you're basically doing is paying for an ad.
When a Malaysian politician does it, minus transparency, it looks rather sad and is very questionable ethics-wise.
It's not against the law but something doesn't need to be illegal to be morally unacceptable.
Someone should perhaps tell our politicians that the best way to get sincere praise from the public is rather simple: do your jobs.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.