Malaysian Trolls: Internet-based Political Trolling as the New Normal in Malaysian Politics

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In the Malaysian context, social media platforms, particularly Facebook and Twitter (and increasingly, YouTube), were weaponized to further the cause of the former Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional-constituted government. The previous government accessed state’s resources to hire big data consultants (i.e. Cambridge Analytica/SCL) and marshal paid trolls (cybertroopers) to disrupt their opponents campaigns, and enacted Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Bill prior to GE14 as a pre-emptive strike against their political opponents. Manipulation of newsfeeds on social media would not have taken place without these enterprises taking advantage of new technical affordances which were adapted from targeted advertising and ‘disruption’. This JCI Forum will address different forms of internet political trolling triggered by pre and post GE14 events.

As we edge towards Web 3.0, what goes on ‘under the hood’ of a digital platform is inseparable from the social hacks and exploits performed by the users of the platforms (regardless of the latter’s technical sophistication), this JCI Forum will consider the different kinds of political trolling that had taken place in Malaysia’s cyberspace during the period before and after GE14.


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