A GROUP of eight civil society organisations (CSOs) are alarmed over what they described as a well-coordinated and paid attempt on social media to generate anti-DAP and anti-Chinese fear and hatred.
The eight CSOs comprised Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Architects of Diversity (AOD), Justice for Sisters, Beyond Borders, Sisters in Islam (SIS), KRYSS Network, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor and Pusat Komas.
“Inflammatory posts that are mostly on TikTok, have been pushing an anti-DAP agenda while calling for mainly Perikatan Nasional (PN) to govern the country,” the group revealed in a media statement.
“These posts demonstrate trends that include a rewriting of the history of May 13, 1969, including that the DAP was the cause of the race riots. The posts then evolved into videos containing images of weapons and guns with messages warning the Malay majority to beware of DAP and Pakatan Harapan (PH). They also threatened a return of racial unrest.”
CIJ executive director Wathshlah Naidu observed that there is significant engagement on TikTok but these posts have also gone viral across other social media platforms, namely Twitter.
“There seems to be a well-coordinated and resourced trend of paid-partnership where young content creators are being used; and netizens being manipulated to viralise these contents,” she pointed out.
User-generated comments are also significantly coordinated with certain accounts amplifying these hate messages. These contents using the May 13 incident are creating fear, polarising the already divided society along racial and religious lines, and at times inciting outright violence while leveraging the deepened social tensions.”
Is PN the culprit?
There are also allegations that PN has engaged professional agencies to coordinate these narratives.
A significantly lower number of positive and moderate voices are also seen – especially on Twitter – when some netizens attempt to counter these hate narratives. It demonstrates the critical need to be informed to withstand such targeted hate narratives.
“The May 13 content that surfaced post-election are consistent with PN’s election campaign, which relied on demonisation of PH and its key leaders to distort voters’ perception”, stated Thilaga Sulathireh, founding member of Justice for Sisters.
“Given the allegations and blatant linkages of the May 13 content with PN, it is important for the Election Commission to undertake an investigation of PN’s campaign tactics in line with Section 4(a) of the Elections Offences Act.
Thilaga added: “The investigation should also look into the ethics surrounding engagement of content creators, especially young content creators.”
AOD’s co-founder Jason Wee said the group of CSOs have reported these messages to social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter whereby a number of these posts have since been removed.
“It is critical for social media platforms to strengthen its content moderation and ensure they invest in necessary resources to mitigate the risk by removing contents that propagate hate and incite violence,” opined Wee. “Failure to act promptly will allow for further amplification of such narratives.” – Nov 23, 2022
Main pic credit: WeirdKaya