Social Media and Democracy: A Complicated Relationship

Webinar Series on Digital Technologies and Democracy in Southeast Asia

About the Webinar

For many years, social media such as Facebook and Twitter were hailed as effective tools to hold powerholders accountable and strengthen democracy. However, recent trends in political uses of social media indicate that the relationship between social media and democracy has become an ambivalent one. While democratic efforts continue to be channelled effectively through social media, social media’s popularity and affordances are also exploited in ways that destabilise or erode democracy’s functioning. This webinar discusses the complicated relationship between social media and democracy, at different levels of the political process, in various Southeast Asian settings. Joining the webinar discussion will be Professor Merlyna Lim (Carleton University) who will shed light on “Networked Spaces of Hope and Despair: Social Media and Grassroots Politics in Southeast Asia” (via recorded video), Dr Janjira Sombatpoonsiri (Chulalongkorn University) who will talk about “Understanding the Triad of Social Media, Polarisation and Democratic Erosion/Collapse” in the case of Thailand, and Dr Clarissa Lee Ai Ling (Sunway University) who will talk about “When Race Becomes the Bait, or the Algorithms of Divide and Conquer in Malaysia’s Politics”.

This first webinar in the series will begin with Welcoming Remarks by Dr Benjamin Loh (Coordinator of the Regional Social and Cultural Studies programme, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) and Opening Remarks by Dr Yatun Sastramidjaja (Visiting Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, and convenor of this webinar series).

More info on the webinar series here.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

Please register here to receive your unique link for joining the webinar.
Limited spaces only, register early to avoid disappointment.

To join the webinar,
1. Install the Zoom client onto your computer or download the app on your mobile device.
2. Set up a Zoom account, using the following link:
3. Click on the unique link in your email.

For the best experience, please mute your microphone. If you have questions for the speaker, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speaker during the Q&A session.


Sep 21 2020


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm