Dhanaraj Kheokao: How TikTok is shaping the future of journalism in Thailand, Asia and beyond

Researcher from Thailand, Dhanaraj Kheokao describes the reasons behind the growing use of TikTok in South Asian countries.


© Bilge KOTAN

Why is TikTok so popular among South Asian Countries ?” This question was raised by Dhanaraj Kheokao, a lawyer and researcher from Thailand, in charge of a study led by the Asian Network for Public Opinion Research (ANPOR). Four southern Asian countries, including Thailand, are among the ten biggest active countries on TikTok in the world.

One of the main reasons is that most of those countries are considered as “authoritarian regimes”, which implies a quite strong censorship from the government. “As TikTok is growing fast, it is difficult for the government to censor it”, said Dhanaraj Kheokao. “It is a good way to express ourselves.

Another reason is the demographic composition of those countries. “About 70% of the users are from the generations Y and Z”, said Dhanaraj Kheokao, adding that a growing part of the other generations are starting to use it.

Cultural habits is also a strong point explaining the growing use of TikTok in South Asia. “In the traffic, people would prefer to go on their phone than reading”, explained Dhanaraj Kheokao. The lower cost of mobile data and subscription in those countries.

“All the news agencies and newsrooms in Thailand are using TikTok”, said Dhanaraj Kheokao. “All of them already have an official account.” These tools might be better than other social media platforms, such as Facebook or Youtube. News agencies are trying new formats, adapting themselves. “It is the emergence of a new form of journalism : hybrid journalism”.

But TikTok is not the end game. “Younger people are using it as an appetizer”, says Dhanaraj Kheokao. “If they want to have more information about a subject, most of them will go on another platform.

By Lucie REMER and Sarah MIANSONI

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