Politics, race, and religion: Pandemic misinformation courses through the Southeast Asian internet
From tales of allegedly dwindling food stockpiles in Singapore to Indonesian land supposedly being traded to China for precious supplies of vaccine, false narratives about COVID-19 have swirled around the Southeast Asian internet for months.
Disinformation in the region is not a new phenomenon. During the 2014 Indonesian election, Islamist groups targeted current President Joko Widodo and falsely claimed he was a non-Muslim of Chinese lineage. Online troll armies notoriously helped propel Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to victory in his 2016 campaign. Concerns about misinformation have led governments to implement highly controversial legislation in Thailand and Malaysia.