Jonathan Corpus Ong

UMass Amherst Associate Professor Jonathan Corpus Ong
Associate Professor
Department of Communication | College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
N354 Integrative Learning Center

Scholars Project Title: Digital Propaganda and Civil Society Interventions

This project aims to gather evidence into the operations and impact of digital disinformation in Southeast Asian countries, particularly in the context of 2019 electoral contests in Indonesia and the Philippines. It develops an approach to disinformation "from the South", which means a critical examination of how new social media affordances for political exchange—such as the currently toxic and vitriolic online public spheres in many established democracies—map onto entrenched political systems, electoral practices, class hierarchies, and civil society resistance in two Southeast Asian countries. It asks: What regulatory and technological "solutions" to disinformation are tested and advocated by Big Tech in Southeast Asian countries, and achieving which aims and serving whose interests? In the lead-up to and the aftermath of Southeast Asian elections, how are these disinformation interventions applied, evaluated and exported to other regions? I will apply an anthropological spirit to seeing how social media are embedded in local cultural norms and systems of practice and arguing for bespoke and culturally specific interventions to address social media manipulation in fragile democracies.

Selected Publications:

  • Ong, J.C. (2019). " Toward an Ordinary Ethics of Mediated Humanitarianism: An Agenda for Ethnography". International Journal of Cultural Studies. Online First Feb 13, 2019.
  • Ong, J.C. and Rovisco, M. (2019). “Conviviality as a Politics of Endurance: The Refugee Emergency and the Consolations of Artistic Interventions”. Popular Communication. Online First Feb 11, 2019
  • Cabanes, J., Anderson, C.W., and Ong, J.C. (2019). “Fake News and Scandal”. In Waisbord, S. & Tumber, H. (eds.). Routledge Companion to Media and Scandal. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Curato, N. & Ong, J.C. (2018). “Who Laughs at a Rape Joke? Illiberal Responsiveness in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines”. In Dreher, T. & Mondal, A. (eds.). Paying Attention: Ethical Responsiveness and the Politics of Difference. London & New York: Palgrave.
  • Ong, J.C. & Cabanes, J.V.C. (2018). "Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines” Public Report. Newton Tech4Dev Network.