Two months after revelations that the majority of new fans to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook account were coming from outside Cambodia, the page has experienced an abrupt drop in foreign “likes”.
Beginning early this year, the page of the self-proclaimed “e-premier” saw a boost in “likes” from countries such as India, Myanmar and Brazil, gaining hundreds or thousands of followers per day from each.
But on May 7, the flow of new “likes” arriving from those countries plummeted, according to data from social media analytics site SocialBakers.
The influx of new likes from abroad has fallen to a fraction of the prior rate, while likes from within Cambodia have remained steady.
On some days, certain countries have registered negative growth. For example, the size of the prime minister’s Indian fanbase decreased slightly on May 8, 10 and 11, when a week prior it had been increasing by 2,000 to 3,000 likes per day.
In March, technology and social media experts told the Post that the flood of new followers from abroad could be evidence that the page was boosting its numbers by purchasing likes from so-called “click farms”.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials have denied this suggestion, instead attributing the rapid growth to the premier’s popularity abroad.
But the sudden halt seemingly gave those theories credence. “This is probably the best indication that the allegations were true,” said an anonymous IT expert based in the capital. “These things don’t just happen by accident.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said he “did not know” about fake “likes” but reiterated the premier’s Facebook page was intended as a tool to hear the views Cambodians. “It is not a competition,” he said.
Additional reporting by Shaun Turton