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    South Africa:Beware the Digital Snake-Oil Salesmen


    analysis

    With more than 20 elections a year in Africa, consultants are inevitably doing the rounds, promising the digital answer to promote candidates. But they need to be taken with a large pinch of salt, since some are no more than masters of fake news and digital fiddling - and they are no answer to the morning after the election night before.

    The 50th anniversary of Moore's "law" - that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles about every two years - marked an estimated trillion-fold increase in computing performance since 1965. The practical achievements are impressive. For example, the Apollo guidance system that took astronauts to the moon equates to the processing power of two games consoles.

    With this amount of present-day firepower, it is unsurprising that digital means - and the consultants who profess to unlock their dark secrets - are today taken as a game changer in elections, enabling the careful (and sometimes controversial, as in the case of Cambridge Analytica) profiling of voters and their...

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