KUALA LUMPUR: Attacks from several quarters, including cybertroopers, who have tried to get social media users to boycott AirAsia have failed as many others have come out in support of the low-cost carrier.
The attacks began after AirAsia chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes uploaded a video in which he attributed AirAsia’s success to the government’s policies.
It also followed AirAsia’s decision to paint one of its aircraft with the Barisan Nasional #HebatkanNegaraKu theme.
Many of the calls of boycott were seen to have been made by “suspicious” social media accounts, indicating perhaps that these were the work of cybertroopers, the so-called Red Bean Army.
Universiti Teknologi Mara’s media psychological war expert Dr Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said the attacks against Fernandes were a form of propaganda aimed at bringing down his credibility as well as the credibility of BN, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s.
He said it was easy to detect fake social media accounts used in such propaganda as they did not have clear avatars and used fake images or someone else’s picture in order to hide the identity of the true owner of the account.
Another way to recognise fake accounts was there would hardly be any interaction between the user and others.
“People should not be easily influenced by or believe in efforts to show that there are many who do not like Tony Fernandes supporting the prime minister... this is actually one of the tactics which should not be used in digital media warfare
“Usually they will try to bring down Tony Fernandes’s image because they cannot let someone like him support the prime minister... this would be seen as a strong endorsement from a big industry, business, as Fernandes is an icon of success in Malaysia.”
Noor Nirwandy said such cases of propaganda aimed at bringing down the credibility of a person usually involved a group of individuals who each maintained between 50 and 100 social media accounts.
“Their financier, however, would be difficult to trace... but usually, in politics, it would likely be from a group which had the power to bring down the credibility of the government,” he said.