Propaganda and Public Opinion Manipulation in Southeast Asia’s Cybersphere


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 2
Wed 14:00-15:30 Room 3.05

Part 2

Session 3
Wed 16:00-17:30 Room 3.05


Save This Event

Add to Calendar

Part 1

Part 2

Show Paper Abstracts


Social media are increasingly being used to hamper public debate and influence election outcomes. Yet while the media regularly reports on targeted ads and fake news, much less is known about an equally threatening, emerging phenomenon: the usage of automated bots and secretive teams of hired social media influencers – called ‘cyber troops’ made up of ‘buzzers’ (Indonesia), ‘keyboard warriors’ (Philippines), or ‘trolls’ (Thailand) – to spread political disinformation and propaganda. Since ruling elites are also increasingly using these tools to cement their grip on power, this kind of ‘digital authoritarianism’ has likely contributed to democratic backsliding. This threat is particularly pronounced in Southeast Asia: it is becoming increasingly clear that political and economic elites regularly set up such ‘cyber troops’ to manipulate public opinion, sell particular policies, and win elections. This panel aims to develop an understanding of this nascent and as yet ill-understood threat to democracy. By bringing together a range of studies on the production and consumption of propaganda from across Southeast Asia, this panel aims to foster comparative analysis of its character, its organisation and funding as well as its capacity to weaken public debate and undermine democracy. This panel will serve to prepare a special issue on the same topic.