*Nurzihan Hassim, Suzanne Tan Ser Zian & Sheila Yvonne Jayasainan
The 14th General Election saw a significant transition in political views and voting inclinations on social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook and Twitter among Malaysian youths despite their absence in the electorate. These digital natives rely heavily on SNSs to consolidate information, to interpret social structures and to engage among themselves as political cognizance is often limited to them. This study proposes that peer engagement through SNSs significantly affects Malaysian youth attitudes on political views, particularly on the act of voting. The study also investigates the extent of information sharing and identifies the motivations that drive Malaysian youths to seek information on voting from their SNSs. A self-administrated questionnaire was conducted with a total of 371 participants; of which 60% were female and 40% male. Our analysis showed that Malaysian youths are significantly influenced by their social connection to others hence posts by their peers and political figures on SNSs receive a higher engagement. There is strong evidence that discussing politics with friends on SNSs is preferred and is in line with their personal interests, thus creating a more inclusive experience among them. This further substantiates the positive impact of SNS consumption by Malaysian youths towards their potential voting participation. The outcomes of the study will ascertain the benefits of SNSs in reaching out to youth to nurture patriotism that could create a sophisticated social networking framework to understand the social impact of new media in the Malaysian context and onwards – on a global scale.
Keywords: Social networking sites, peer engagement, voting, youths, GE14