Analyzing Online Voting Systems for Flaw Detection

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2015

16 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background Study

3. Case Studies
3.1. Case 1: Photo Contest in Facebook
3.2. Case 2: Voting through Tweets on Twitter using Hashtag
3.3. Case 3: YouTube Video Contest
3.4. Case 4: Product Review in E-Commerce Sites
3.5. Case 5: Google Form’s Poll Manipulation

4. Findings

5. Possible Characteristics of Futuristic Voting System

6. Conclusion



Social media have already become a vital part in every aspects of our life because of the tremendous advantage of technology. As a result, voting for contests are held online to provide the users more comfort. Today people are voting for their favorite content or contestant in different types of contest via different forms of online voting policy. But regrettably the results of these voting contests are not always reveal the actual result because of the manipulation of voting using different tools and techniques. In this research paper, we have stated several case studies concerning online voting manipulation. Case studies data are analyzed to discover how computer technology is used to manipulate voting in Social Media for future research. The study found that, there are many potential weaknesses that should be treated as highly hazardous for online voting. We believe that, if these weaknesses can be resolved then online voting will be more trustworthy as well widely acceptable. Even the possible solutions for the findings from this paper can lead to elect representatives of parliament via Online Election System.


Online Voting Contest, Online Election System, Social Media, Case Studies, Vote Manipulation.

1. Introduction

In past few years technology has advanced so far away that digitization and automation has emerged on every aspects of human life, society and nation. Web technologies and networking have improved in a radical manner. Today different online contests are arranged by various companies. In this type of contests, online voting plays an important role. Different social media are providing different features (LIKE, hashtag, favorites). But in this types of contests, a big question has raised-“Is the system secured enough to held fail voting?” Because the voting result can be manipulated in various ways. Like in Facebook photo contests, number of fake accounts can be created or bought to give LIKES. And this will be unfair to the deserved candidate who can be the winner.

In online voting, it is very important to make a safe and secure environment to make the competition perfect and fair. For proper voting, a secure system is essential. In our research we have shown the flaws of online voting system in different social media, product review systems and voting forms. It is challenging job to make a system secured for online voting. There are some tradeoffs towards a secured system. For example, a system can be secured from bots [ 6 ] using high level captcha [ 1 ], but it will decrease user friendliness. And it leads to lessen popularity of that particular competition. There are no such effective solutions to detect fake IDs. The problems regarding online voting in not organized and explained so far. That leads our interest to study the cases to find out the reasons behind the security issue. As we know different developed and developing countries have started electronic voting on national election. Many countries do not start digitization on national election yet. But these types of manual voting are causing lots of manipulations on vote casting and riots occurred. With the emerging advantage of technology, now it’s possible to arrange National Election via online. That can erase the manipulation. But there are flaws in online voting system. So, national election cannot be arranged online so far. Before this, a secure online voting system essential. Our motivation behind this research was to find out the flaws behind online competition. In this paper we have discussed five cases and found the reasons behind the unfair competitions on online. As, digitalization is evolved on every aspects, security is the burning issue here. As elections have to be fair and proper leader must have to win for the welfare for the nation and society, online election also have to be more secure than manual voting. Our focus on this paper is to mark the problems and flaws on online security for fair voting that have to be eradicated. That will lead to national and local elections online.

2. Background Study

Online Contest: Different types of online contests are arranged in different social media. Users are select a content or topic by giving Like (Facebook), Favorites (Twitter, YouTube). It is actually process of proving content popular among other contents. Different photo contests, best couple contests, best songs, video contests and writing contests are arranged by different social media.

Like: It is a way to give positive feedback on contents and connect with things a particular user or user group care about. Users can "like" content such as status updates, comments, photos, and links posted by friends, pages, groups, and advertisers [2]. The number of likes that posts receive is one factor that Facebook uses to determine what to show in News Feed.

Subscribe: The feature allows users to follow public updates, and these are the people most often broadcasting their ideas [3]. The main purpose of this feature is to keep the fan page and continue to maintain two separate Facebook presences.

Contest Apps: Facebook has an application feature which is used to start a Timeline or Page Contest. There are many types of contests like photo contest, app concepts, and idea contests. Here different users give their vote to contestants by the “like” feature.

Hash Tag Feature: Online user judging or voting is also sometimes arranged by using feature like “hashtag”. The main difference lies between features using “like” and “timeline” [4]. The positive or supportive feedback is given using #hashtag [5] on timeline.

Tweets: In Twitter “tweet” is some sort of messages or microblog text that express the thoughts, idea, and interests on some issue or content. Default feature is that tweets are visible publicly, but senders can restrict message delivery to just their followers [26]. Retweeting is when a tweet is forwarded via Twitter by users. It is actually same as share in “Facebook”. Both tweets and retweets can be tracked to see which ones are most popular. #Hashtag tweets are one of the best ways for voting in online contests. A celebrity or a person how much popular can be get by twitter hashtag and follower as it is a microblog.

Fake Accounts: Fake means anything that doesn’t belongs to actual thing. In social media fake account is the account which is not belongs to the actual person. Information of a particular person is manipulated or faked by another person. In different mailboxes (Gmail, Yahoo Mail), social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter) and video sharing sites (YouTube), fake accounts can be created. These fake accounts are used in different unethical and unfair purposes. By using these accounts anyone can harm a user and make a contest unfair.

Internet Bot: An Internet bot, in its most generic sense, is software that performs an automated task over the Internet. More specifically, a bot is an automated application used to perform simple and repetitive tasks that would be time-consuming, mundane or impossible for a human to perform [6]. Bots can be used for productive tasks, but they are also frequently used for malicious purposes. The term "bot" comes from robot. An Internet bot may also be known as a Web robot or WWW robot. Website scrapers that grab the content of websites and re-use it without permission on automatically generated doorway pages [6]. One of the best examples of a good bot is a search engine spider. Such bots troll the Web and index new pages for a search engine. Other examples include the original Internet relay chat bots and chatterbots. A feed bot is a type of Internet Bot that scrapes content in part or in full from either RSS feeds or whole Unified Resource Locator (URL) links as their source of content.

3. Case Studies

Here in this section, we mention several case studies related to online voting manipulation on Social media.

3.1. Case 1: Photo Contest in Facebook

Facebook is the largest online social network with total 1,310,000,000 monthly active Facebook users [7]. Because of this reason, Facebook is one of the tempting choice to the Companies for branding purpose. Companies host different types of campaign in Facebook with the intention of reaching and recruiting new fans, launching new products and services, building email subscriber list, increasing awareness and staying top of mind etc. [8]. Photo Contest Campaign is one of the attractive option among many options for branding purpose.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Sample Photo Contest on Facebook [9]

In most of the Photo Contests, users are required to upload their best photo regarding a special occasion and get as much as “Like” possible from the users. Although it’s a good promotional method for the Promoters, but in most of cases well-deserved contestants are being deprived because of vote manipulation. At present, there are many sources [10, 11] highly available on the internet from where anyone can buy their desired “Likes” even Verified Facebook Accounts [12, 13]. In case of purchased Facebook accounts, it’s possible to cast vote through BOT by using these purchased accounts.

3.2. Case 2: Voting through Tweets on Twitter using Hashtag

Twitter is the second largest online social network with 289,000,000 users in terms of active users [14]. Tweets of Twitter is a good choice to the different organizations for promotional purposes as they can their photos, videos, updates etc. [15]. Using the “hashtag” feature of Twitter, many voting contests are hosted by different organizations. For example, America’s Got Talent (@nbcagt) had Twitter voting on their show.

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Figure 2: Sample Tweet for Voting [16]

Again, this type of voting can be easily manipulated using automated vote casting software. The voting result from the social networks like Twitter also have influence over the result of National Election [17] so it’s essential to stop voting manipulation to make it more reliable.

3.3. Case 3: YouTube Video Contest

In YouTube there are many channels associated with a google account where user can subscribe the channels. Different companies marketing their product or content through different type of video contests. In figure 3 we can see the contest named “Best ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2014 Flash MOB”. In this contest different educational institutions of Bangladesh have made videos of own flash mob of the theme song of T20 Cricket World Cup. So the winner is selected by counting number of views [18]. Here view number can be increased. This approach is done by using a script that can be automated to reload the same link of the video in a browser. So the number views will be increased automatically. So “How can it be a fair contest?”

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Most Popular ICC T20 World Cup Theme Song Flash Mob [19]


Excerpt out of 16 pages


Analyzing Online Voting Systems for Flaw Detection
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online voting, voting manipulation, onlineabstimmung, wahlmanipulation, wahlfälschung
Quote paper
Md. Shamsur Rahim (Author)AZM Ehtesham Chowdhury (Author), 2015, Analyzing Online Voting Systems for Flaw Detection, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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