Functions, Influences & Effects of WhatsApp Use During the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia

  •  Mohd Fatrim Syah Abd Karim    
  •  Mohd Syuhaidi Abu Bakar    


On March 18, 2020, the Malaysian government took a firm position to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by putting in effect the Movement Control Order (MCO). By that time, Malaysia had recorded deaths and the number of infections was hundreds. During this period, in addition to the use of popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for rapid information communication, the WhatsApp messaging app was also heavily relied upon during the MCO. In addition to providing information, WhatsApp was also considered to play an important role in daily tasks as well as in education. This article discusses the functions, influences and effects of the use of WhatsApp among Malaysians during the MCO. This research conducted a structured interview with 10 informants from diverse backgrounds and age range. The data was then transcribed verbatim. Analysis of the results revealed that WhatsApp's main functions were to facilitate communication with family members and employers, as well as the means for a rapid exchange of information. On the other hand, the informants revealed that some information shared in WhatsApp was unreliable since there were irresponsible people who were creating and sharing fake news. The informants were also aware that the dissemination of fake news will cause mass panic among the Malaysians. As such, the informants would refer to reliable sources to determine the authenticity of the news they have encountered. This action reflected a mature attitude using WhatsApp during the MCO.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.