Social media in East Asia is slowly becoming the new trend and culture, as more people and communities in the region, adopt this new mode of communication. In the past, the countries in East Asia, relied solely on information from strict government controlled channels, but this is no longer the case.
The tide is changing, and social media is grounding itself in the region.
Social Media as a News Source
More than 40 percent of the people in these countries have Facebook accounts. Citizens of the country have begun to use social media platforms in order to discuss current events such as recent disasters, such as earthquakes, flooding and war. The speed, in which East Asia has begun updating these websites, at times, surpasses traditional channels of news which often relay information that has already been published on Twitter and Facebook. The re-tweeting feature on Twitter played a large role in informing individuals on what measures to take, and places to avoid in the wake of recent earthquakes and flooding.
The Association for South East Asian Nations monitors the progress that social media has on the region. Because information on social media is not controlled, any update or message can be of great help to individuals, and the community at large. Strangers offered assistance to each other in order to overcome major catastrophes, rather than waiting to receive updates from news channels.
Social media capabilities on cell phones makes communication easy in a time of crisis, as individuals can be on the move while learn what’s happening around them. People in the ASEAN region feel more in control of what they know, because they are in charge of what news they receive. Social media in South East Asia is considered a trustworthy channel that is straightforward and a voice for average citizens.
Certain Restrictions Apply
However, studies have shown that once, the crisis dissipates, those who live in the region tend to go back to business as usual and do not continue to engage each other on social media platforms. There are challenges however, as the power of social media in the region is not conclusive, and remains to be seen. There are legal restrictions on cyber speech that deter people and communities from fully expressing their ideas through social media channels. There is a fine line on freedom of expression and defamation which results in apprehension regarding the platforms.
Governments throughout most of the South East Asian countries have not fully embraced the power of social media. However, the case is different in Malaysia, where politicians are required to be involved with social media, so that they may engage their constituents through feeds and comments.
Another challenge in this region is the fact that, not all people have access to devices that offer connections to social media. Such persons are still inclined to follow mainstream media, which can keep them from the growing developments occurring on social platforms.
Social media in Malaysia is used as the basis for determining how countries in the ASEAN region are adapting to the culture. In Thailand, citizen journalism is taken seriously, and media outlets there offer training to those who are interested in the field.