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Polarising Narratives and Deepening Fault Lines: Social Media, Intolerance and Extremism in Four Asian Nations

by Hari Prasad; Jordan Newton; Kyaw Nyi Nyi; Yasmira Moner

Mar 1, 2021

The use of social media platforms and chat applications in Asia has grown exponentially in recent years. Throughout the 2010s, violent extremists (VEs) in different parts of the continent exploited this growing access to audiences, disseminating their divisive messages broadly, while targeting individuals in fringe online groups. Technology companies and governments eventually imposed relatively effective measures to moderate overtly terrorist content, remove accounts and limit reach. However, the dynamics of broader communication on platforms that reward contentious engagement is continuing to inflame domestic political polarisation and societal division.

Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and India are four Asian nations with unique but comparable experiences regarding the impact of online communications on social fault lines, extremism and violence. This report outlines and analyses these respective contexts.