Deepening the Understanding of Social Media’s Impact in Southeast Asia

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About the Publication

Southeast Asia’s Internet users are far more diverse than usually reported. They range from the urban youth with laptops and high-speed Wi-Fi, to the older generation semi-rural and rural users with affordable mobile phones for Facebook and WhatsApp. 

Southeast Asians generally trust social media platforms more than in Western societies. This trust in social media reflects a lack of trust in local mainstream media and official sources of information. 

What campaign information (and disinformation) is being spread and which ones are most successful are essential for understanding how voters in Southeast Asia use and trust social media.

Social media platforms and Southeast Asia’s “app industry” need clearer and enforced regulation on their use of data and the extent to which they can sell data to advertisers. These advertisers include, but are not limited to, politicians and political parties.

Since the future of social media usage will likely lie in closed groups, the role of big data analyses that have dominated research on social media over the past ten years, is likely to regress. Instead, ethnographic scholars who can access these groups and engage with their particular interests and identities are more likely to be useful in understanding the digital sphere in the future.

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