The use of social media for political purposes is not a new phenomenon. The 2016 presidential elections in the United States is an initial case of how “fake news” spread on social media platforms such as Facebook can affect electoral outcomes. Recent elections held in the Southeast Asia region have also witnessed how the propagation of political disinformation on social media can impact electoral and other democratic processes. In the Philippines, events surrounding the May 2022 presidential elections showed the biggest, most organized, and most polarized electoral use of social media in the country to date. The same observation holds true in concluded and upcoming elections within the region such as Malaysia in 2018, Indonesia in 2019, and Thailand this 2023. This paper thus seeks to compare and contrast the cases of these four countries grappling with the problem of electoral disinformation on social media. This paper focuses on enabling factors that create the environment for the cultivation and spread of disinformation, prevalent disinformation narratives within the context of elections, steps undertaken to address this problem, and the corresponding impacts of this issue on democracy.
Maria Elize Mendoza, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines
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