Exploring TikTok's Role in Political Discourse: A Content Analysis of GE15 and SE2023 in Malaysia

  • Fadzilla Hernani Mohd Janis
  • Saheera Sardar Mohamed
  • Mohd Haizra Hashim
  • Liong Wei Shan


TikTok is a social media platform that gained immense popularity and particularly favored by the younger population in Malaysia for its interesting feature focused on short video content. The latest trend in the political environment in Malaysia during Malaysia's 15th General Election and State Election 2023 is that TikTok has become a major platform for political parties and individuals to promote their respective sides. This study highlights how politicians from political parties and individuals have used TikTok as an election campaign platform to promote their political stance. The method used for this study is qualitative content analysis, utilizing purposive sampling by leveraging the TikTok post. Filter and hashtag were used to filter the posts taken from TikTok. This research applied five main themes and 20 subthemes adopted based on the literature review search. It was found that most of the political content in TikTok was in the form of entertainment meant to engage with the younger audience. Meanwhile, most of the political content associated with the political involvement of Malaysian youth was informational content posted by politicians and experienced voters.



Abdullah, N.A., Hassan, I., Ahmad, M. A., Hassan, N.A., and Ismail, M.M. (2021). Social Media, Youths and Political Participation in Malaysia: A Review of Literature. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences. 11(4), 845-857.
Azwar, A.I. and Suet Nie, K. (2022). Factors Influencing Young Malaysians’ Political Information Seeking Behaviour on Twitter. Malaysian Journal of Communication. 38 (3), 87-105.
Cervi, L., Tejedor, S. and Llado, C.M. (2021). TikTok and the new language of political communication: the case of Podemos. Culture, Language and Representation. Vol. XXVI, 267-287. https://doi.org/10.6035/clr.5817
Hin, O. K. (2022). How Political Parties Used TikTok in the 2022 Malaysian General Election. RSIS Commentary, 1–4. https://www.rsis.edu.sg/rsis-publication/rsis/how-political-partiesused-tiktok-in-the-2022-malaysian-general-election/
H. Rodzi, N. (2022, November 17). TikTok trumps flag wars: Malaysia’s parties battle on social media to woo young voters. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/tiktok-trumps-flag-wars-malaysia-s-parties-battle-on-social-media-to-woo-young-voters#:~:text=%E2%80%9CThere%20should%20be%20a%20TikTok%20war%20because%20the,market%20of%20voters%20%E2%80%93%20young%2C%20new%20and%20first-timers.%E2%80%9D
Kambhampaty, A. P. (2022, March 19). Securing the TikTok vote. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/19/style/tiktok-political-campaigns-midtermelections.html
Kaye, D.B.V., Chen, X., and Zeng, J. (2021). The co-evolution of two Chinese mobile short video apps: Parallel platformization of Douyin and TikTok. Mobile Media & Communication. Vol. 9 (2) 229-253. https://doi.org/10.1177/205015792095212
Lim, Y. (2013, February 27) PM: GE13 will be Malaysia’s 1st ‘social media election’. The Star Online.http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2013/2/27/nation/20130227190736&sec=nation
Lim, Young-shin and Lee-Won, R.J. (2016). When retweets persuade: The persuasive effects of dialogic retweeting and the role of social presence in organizations’ Twitter-based communication. Telematics and Informatics. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2016.09.003
Literat I. (2018). Make, share, review, remix: Unpacking the impact of the internet on contemporary creativity. Convergence, 25(5–6), 1168–1184. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856517751391
Literat, I. and Kligler-Vilenchik, N. (2019). Youth collective political expression on social media: The role of affordances and memetic dimensions for voicing political views. New Media & Society. Vol 1(9) 1988-2009. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444819837
Literat, I. and Kligler-Vilenchik, N. (2023). TikTok as a Key Platform for Youth Political Expression: Reflecting on the Opportunities and Stakes Involved. Social Media + Society. 1-3.
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission [MCMC]. (2022, October).
Montag, C., Yang, H., & Elhai, J. D. (2021). On the Psychology of TikTok Use: A First Glimpse From Empirical Findings. Frontiers in Public Health. 9(641673). https://doi.org/10- .3389/fpub h.2021.641673
NA. (2022, October 23). How did UNDI18 come about? The Star. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/10/23/how-did-undi18-come-about
Shiratuddin, N., Mohd Sani, M.A., Hassan, S., Ahmad, M.K., Talib @ Khalid, K.A., and Ahmad, N.S.Y. (2016). Malaysian Journal of Communication. 32(1) 2016: 246-262.
Statista. (2023, July 13). Share of TikTok users in Malaysia 2023, by age group. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1378785/malaysia-demographics-of-tiktok-users-by-age-group-2022/#:~:text=Published%20by%20Statista%20Research%20Department%2C%20Jul%2013%2C%202023,years%2C%20comprising%20around%2029%20percent%20of%20TikTok%20users.
Ting, S.H. and Wan Ahmad, S.S. (2021). Everyday Interactions and Political Participation of Malaysian Youth. Journal of Youth Studies. doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2021.1923672
United Nations (n.d.). Youth. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/youth
Yunus, A. and Landau, E. (2019, July 3). ‘Youth’ now defined as those between 15 and 30. New Straits Times. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/501288/youth-now-defined-those-between-15-and-30
Zhang, Yan & Wildemuth, Barbara M. (2005). Qualitative Analysis of Content by. Human Brain Mapping 30 (7):2197-2206.
How to Cite
MOHD JANIS, Fadzilla Hernani et al. Exploring TikTok's Role in Political Discourse: A Content Analysis of GE15 and SE2023 in Malaysia. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, [S.l.], v. 6, n. 2, p. 288-299, june 2024. Available at: <https://myjms.mohe.gov.my/index.php/ajress/article/view/26863>. Date accessed: 26 july 2024.
English Section