Online political engagement in Southeast Asia

Online political engagement in Southeast Asia

The Lab
Level 2 of the Digital Studio
West Wing of Arts West
(access via the rear lift)


Part of the Digital Politics seminars series

Dr Aim Sinpeng
University of Sydney

Southeast Asia is the most social media active region in the world yet our understanding of online political participation is still in its infancy. Elections often see online political participation peak as political parties launch full-scale social media campaigns in their contest to win the hearts and minds of voters. How do political parties engage with social media users and what do users actually do online during election campaigns? What accounts for a successful social media campaign?

Based on survey results and Facebook analysis of political engagement during the campaign periods of four elections in Southeast Asia: the Philippines (2016), Malaysia (2018), Thailand (2019) and Indonesia (2019), this seminar will argue that pre-existing online and offline support base is crucial to the success of a political candidate’s social media campaign regardless of candidate’s input. It will also touch upon the issues of online disinformation and trust in social media information and why they vary both within a country and across countries. Discussions relating to the pros and cons of conducting political research on social media data will also be raised.

Dr Aim Sinpeng is a Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. She is also the co-founder of the Sydney Cyber Security Network and the Thailand Coodinator of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. She has published widely on Thai politics and is currently working on a project on fake news and politics in Southeast Asia.

Image: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a selfie with employees of an airline company at Ormoc City Airport TOTO LOZANO/Presidential Photo. Source: Wikimedia