Social media and the internet dominate the lives of Malaysians

16 Sep 2023 10:49am
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - Social media and the internet have firmly entrenched in the daily lives of Malaysians, significantly shaping their lifestyle, thought processes, values, and even their political affiliations.

A study conducted by Kajidata in July, using a randomly selected sample of 1,082 respondents, reveals that a whopping 71 per cent of Malaysians use WhatsApp on a daily basis, followed by Facebook (51 per cent), TikTok ( 49 per cent), Instagram (45 per cent), and X (formerly Twitter) at 30 per cent.

Internet usage is equally pervasive, with 61 per cent of respondents reporting substantial online activity throughout the week.

In his analysis of the study's findings, Kajidata advisor Prof Datuk Seri Syed Arabi Idid noted that traditional media channels such as television (40 per cent) and radio (20 per cent) were unable to compete with the lure of social media and the internet.

The former Rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia remarked that the digital age has further marginalised print media, evident in the study's data, where only 20 per cent engaged with print media during the week.

Syed Arabi emphasised that these findings shed light on which mediums possess significant influence over people and how they can be effectively harnessed for engagement and influence.

Concurring with Syed Arabi on the power of social media and the internet, Kajidata advisor Datuk Haris Ismail added that the findings underscore an established fact, social media is widely used to influence people including by political parties.

This influence was notably evident during the recent six-state election in August, where political parties ramped up their online presence, even engaging in divisive politics by exploiting issues related to race, religion, and the royals (the 3R issue).

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However, Haris cautioned that the sheer reach of political parties on social media doesn't necessarily translate to political dominance.

"This is because they make 'paid appearances' and, as such, do not accurately reflect the party's actual strength,” he explained.

Syed Arabi further pointed out another significant finding from a study conducted just before the six-state election in August, slightly more than half of Malaysians indicated they would vote for the party rather than the candidate.

While Malays, other Bumiputeras, and Chinese voters predominantly supported the party, slightly more than half of Indian and other ethnic groups favoured individual candidates.

Haris highlighted that this trend is particularly noticeable among supporters of parties like Pas, who prioritise the party over the candidate as seen in the six-state election.

Furthermore, the popularity of the country's leaders when compared with earlier studies has seen fluctuations, which, according to Syed Arabi, reflects the high expectations placed on leaders and the realities faced by the people. - BERNAMA