Social Media, Fake News, and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Sketching the Case of Southeast Asia
Keywords:COVID-19 pandemic, emergency laws and regulations, infodemic, social media, Southeast Asia
As a result of lockdowns across Southeast Asia, the use of all types of social media has reached high records in the whole region. Yet, the rapid social media response manifested in the form of an infodemic – an overabundance of false and misleading information. Concurrently, the region has also witnessed a significant rise in various governmental measures targeting social media actors. In the name of combating fake news, various legal enactments, including enhanced censorship and sanctions, have been pursued by Southeast Asian authorities. These, however, are often deemed unjustified and aggressively restricting of freedom of speech and expression, especially at a time when ASEAN member states have gained notoriety for their lack of civil liberties. This article aims to reveal connections between the infodemic and legal responses in Southeast Asia on the basis of a qualitative literature review and content analysis. It looks at the term infodemic along with the proliferation of different forms of fake news in the context of Southeast Asia’s social media use. It also highlights discrepancies between legal responses and the impacts of fake news during the early days of the pandemic.
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