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Unpacking the ideas and trends shaping Asia’s future
From political extremism to mental health, we're all aware of social media's negative impact on society. But what about its power as a tool for social change? Let’s take a Deep Dive.

😕 With more than 3 billion users globally, social media plays a huge role in our lives. But the verdict on whether that's a good thing is mixed at best.

🎤 Some studies find a strong link between the heavy use of social media and an increased risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Others argue that social media gives a voice to the voiceless and accelerates the exchange of knowledge across borders.  

✊ Social media has also proven to be a powerful tool in building global awareness and support for causes, from a viral hashtag that started a global movement against sexual harassment and assault, to platforms like Telegram and Facebook becoming mobilisation channels used by activists.
"Social media democratises how we meet to discuss. Before, the thing that mediated our discussions was corporate media—it mediated the coverage of events and presented this knowledge to the people."
18 This February, India finally ended its 18-month ban on mobile data services in Kashmir, which it imposed to clamp down on anti-India communications.

323% In July 2019, encrypted messaging app Telegram saw its number of first-time downloads grow by 323 percent year-over-year in Hong Kong, a likely result of the protests at the time.

½ Following a coup, Myanmar’s junta blocked several messaging services including Facebook, which is used by around half of the country’s 53 million people, in a move said to silence online activists.

3 Three nights after the video footage of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police started circulating on social media, live images of protests in the city began to take over newsfeeds.
The global average for active social network penetration is 53.6 percent. Which Asian country has the highest usage?

A. South Korea
B. Singapore
C. China

Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.
Earlier this month, Barbadian singer, actress and entrepreneur Rihanna saw her tweet about the farmers' protests in India go viral. Several other international figures including climate activist Greta Thunberg followed suit in expressing their support for the ongoing protests, but were met with criticism from the Indian government and several Bollywood celebrities.
👨‍🎤 A young Chinese celebrity raises environmental awareness. When Chinese singer and actor Wang Junkai shared about the United Nations' #WildforLife campaign on his Weibo feed, his post reached 400 million viewers and led to 3 million pledges of action. 

Amplifying social media as a force for good. MIT Sloan professor Sinan Aral says that in order to use social media for good, we must first understand the phenomena driving what he calls “the hype machine”

🔨 Crushing sexual health taboos on Instagram. Indonesian social media activist and Gen.T honouree Andrea Gunawan uses her platform to educate her nearly 240,000 followers about sexual health and responsible sexual behaviour.

🧠 Routine social media use may be more beneficial than we think. A study found that mindful users who are able to regulate their usage may be able to reap its positive mental health impacts.
British author and purpose coach Jay Shetty describes how uplifting, positive content on social media generally does much better than posts about current affairs, politics or problems we face as humans.
Keyhole, Meltwater, The Economist
In the months following the #MeToo hashtag going viral in October 2017, there was a steady increase in the average number of Tweets that mentioned it each month, as seen in the graph above. As of September 2018, the hashtag had been used more than 19 million times on Twitter.
Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, which in January 2021 made an unprecedented move to ban former US president Donald Trump from its platform indefinitely due to the “offline harm” posed by his tweets. Twitter has also announced that it’s working on ways to decentralise its service to fight online abuse and misinformation.
Jovi Adhiguna
Jovi Adhiguna is breaking social stigmas as a queer icon in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Known for his androgynous looks, the lifestyle influencer uses social media to raise awareness about LGBTQ issues and share positive content to his 700,000 Instagram followers.
In 2019, another female-focused movement branched out from #MeToo in Japan. The #KuToo campaign called for the removal of a widespread policy that required women to wear high heels at work. 

In March 2020, the movement achieved a big win when Japan Airlines became the country’s first major employer to abandon the mandatory workplace dress code for its flight attendants.
That’s it for this issue. Have a productive week!

This issue of the Deep Dive was written by Chong Seow Wei, with design and illustration by Francesca Gamboa.

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The answer to the quiz is A (South Korea).
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