Online Extremism Codebook

This codebook serves as a reference for researchers interested in exploring online extremism. It outlines the research background, methods, findings, and dissemination methods. While this codebook may not be a comprehensive guide to research development, it offers valuable insights and guidance for further investigation in the relatively underexplored area of online extremism within the Malaysian context.


INITIATE.MY conducted a research investigating the increase in online hate and violent extremism tendencies in Malaysia from September 2022 to December 2023, a period marked by key political events including the 15th General Election, the 2023 State Elections, and the October 7 incident linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Despite this concerning trend, there has been limited attention given to the issue of online hate and extremism in Malaysia and its impact on national harmony and security. Therefore, this research aims to address this gap by raising awareness, fostering discourse, and proposing solutions.


1. Analyse online content from platforms like TikTok, Telegram, and X (formerly Twitter) to identify dangerous narratives, influential actors, dissemination patterns, and risks to national harmony and security.

2. Formulate policy recommendations through a collaborative approach to address online hate and violent extremism based on the analysis findings.

Range of data collection

From September 2022 to December 2023

Target audience

Researchers, practitioners and policymakers in online extremism and security

Research team


Suyin Chia (MA Terrorism, Security & Society (KCL), BA International Studies & Communications (Monash)
Daniel Teoh Tzu Yong (Political Communication MSc (Brunel London), LL.B (UoL)

Data analyst

C. Hari S. Shankar (BA Economics & Innovation (Ritsumeikan APU)


Aizat Shamsuddin (MIR (UniMelb), Shariah & LL.B (USIM)


Raw data in xlsx. file is attached below. Please note that the original usernames have been anonymised in anonymous user IDs. Any enquiry please contact us at


Research Methods

1. Social media scraping

The data for this research was collected from several social media platforms, with TikTok being the primary platform of interest. There were two types of data collected:

     The body of a post on a given platform. Eg: the video or image(s) attached to a TikTok post.

     The statistics for a post, as well as other miscellaneous information. Eg: number of times a post was shared.

Metadata was collected to gain a high-level view of how a certain user or gendre of content platforms with regard to online engagement, through quantifiable measures such as the number of likes, comments, and shares. The contents of the posts were examined by the researchers to obtain nuanced information that cannot be found in the metadata, such as the kind of language used by the post author to discuss a certain topic, images and sounds used to convey their message, and other forms of non-verbal communication.

Data from TikTok was collected using a third-party data collection service. Data collection for TikTok using a custom code-based tool was initially considered but ultimately rejected due to complexity of operation and maintenance. Although they can be expensive if not configured appropriately, the utilisation of pre-built third-party tools enabled researchers to quickly collect and analyse a large volume of data.

Telegram data was collected using the official Telegram API. This API is free of charge, and was used to scrape messages from various public Telegram channels. In addition to the Telegram API, a Python package called Telethon was also used as a wrapper for the Telegram API to streamline the development process.

Sample screenshots of the content collected from TikTok can be found in the full research report, and the metadata is available for download in xlsx. file format. The metadata dataset includes information about the posts that were manually added by the researchers (Gender, Content Description, and Remarks). The messages scraped from Telegram channels are also available for download in xlsx. file format.

2. Expert analysis

The expert analysis method employed by the team adopts a multidisciplinary approach, leveraging the specialised knowledge of experts in security, public policy, social sciences, and political sciences. Team experts interpreted, reviewed, and discussed data sourced from a variety of platforms, including social media, scholarly writings, and reports from governments, international organisations and tech companies. This approach enables a comprehensive examination of complex issues from multiple perspectives, culminating in robust and well-rounded policy recommendations.

3. Expert consultations

Four series of consultations were conducted, involving over 30 experts from civil society, social media, media sectors, academics, international organisations, and government agencies, including the Ministry of Communications and its agencies such as the Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Department of Information Malaysia, BERNAMA Radio and TV, Strategic and Corporate Financial Control Division (BKSK), and Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM). The feedback gathered from these expert consultations was instrumental in identifying the strengths of the report, pinpointing areas requiring further refinement, and formulating more targeted policy recommendations.

Research limitations

1. Data Availability

Due to content removal by TikTok during the data analysis process, some relevant content for study was unavailable, potentially limiting the comprehensiveness of the analysis.

2. Language Limitation

The dataset was collected only in Bahasa Malaysia and English, excluding widely spoken languages such as Mandarin and Tamil. This limitation may restrict access to diverse content, potentially overlooking other trends and valuable context. However, the current dataset still enables a general analysis of the predominant far-right trends in Malaysia, supported by news and scholarly articles.

Our data collection process led to the extraction of 7,575 posts. The findings were then shortlisted to 55 TikTok accounts, 6 Telegram channels, and 317 posts containing far-right narratives, propaganda, and incitement to violence for further study, which were then classified into the following categories:


Content that discriminates against or marginalises minority groups, such as ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. This may entail propagating harmful stereotypes, disseminating falsehoods that detrimentally impact these communities, and dehumanising individuals or groups by equating them with subhuman entities or likening them to animals.


Expressions that oppose or show hostility towards migrants or refugees. This includes negative portrayals and false accusations aimed at dehumanising these groups.


Content that promotes hatred against Jews, involving the spread of conspiracy theories, stereotypes, or direct threats. It includes conspiratorial claims of malevolence, corruption, or harmful influence attributed to Jews, the denial or minimisation of the Holocaust, and the dissemination of Nazi propaganda.

Malay supremacy/victimisation

Content advocating the superiority of Malays over other groups, or portraying Malays as unjustly persecuted or victimised, stoking fears about the erosion of their birth rights, culture, or livelihood.

Extremist symbols

The use of symbols, imagery, music, or language associated with extremist ideologies, such as logos, flags, or coded language. These symbols often serve to signal allegiance or to propagate extremist views.

Threats and incitement to violence

Content that encourages violent acts against individuals or groups, either directly or indirectly. This includes explicit threats, statements of intent to commit violence, calls to action, and conditional statements that promote, support, or advocate for violence.

Slurs and attacks based on protected attributes (race, religion, descent, place of birth, gender)

Use of derogatory language or attacks aimed at excluding and intimidating individuals or groups based on protected attributes, often involving terms historically linked to discrimination and oppression.

Conspiracies or misinformation

The dissemination of intentionally false or misleading information designed to discredit or harm individuals or groups, or to incite distrust or hatred.

Glorification or sympathy for an extremist person/group/viewpoint

Content that praises or expresses support for extremist ideologies, groups, or leaders whether historical or contemporary. This includes expressions that advocate for or justify extremist actions or ideologies.


1. Dominant dangerous narratives and actors in Malaysia, including political entities, NGOs, and social influencers, are closely tied to ethno-religious politics. They promote far-right ideologies, undermining Malaysia’s multi-religious and multi-racial fabric.

2. Narratives exploiting Malay-Muslim supremacy, anti-minority sentiments, and conspiracy theories can incite intolerant attitudes, leading to discrimination, harassment, and violence. This exacerbates community tensions among ethnic, religious, and migrant groups.

3. Extremist actors exploit the digital landscape, using social media platforms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to spread dangerous content rapidly. They target wider and younger demographics across Peninsular Malaysia and other Malay-speaking regions, often with impunity.

4. Extremist actors undermine trust in democratic institutions, mobilising public opinion against fellow citizens and government policies. They advocate for extralegal measures like harassment and violence, intimidating government leaders and judiciary officials.

5. Multi-stakeholder cooperation is crucial in combating online hate and violent extremism, involving government agencies, tech companies, and civil society.

6. INITIATE.MY recommends two immediate actions:

a. Nationwide community-driven awareness campaigns about lessons from the 13th May incident to prevent repitition or politicisation, denouncing malign actors who exploit it.

b. Incorporating a restorative justice mechanism into the justice system to hold extremist actors accountable. This includes mandating public apologies and dialogue with affected individuals or communities to deescalate tensions and promote peaceful closure.


Following the publication of the report in April 2024, INITIATE.MY has proactively participated in policy discussions aimed at enhancing national harmony and security. The organisation strategically disseminated research findings through a series of targeted engagements designed to elevate awareness among key policy stakeholders — including government officials, law enforcement, diplomats, funders, civil society representatives, and youth. These engagements are intended to support the development and update of policies to effectively address far-right extremism in Malaysia and beyond.

You can access the full report here.

For access, please request permission by emailing us at

1. Roundtable discussion

In May, a roundtable discussion was held, drawing participation from over 35 stakeholders including representatives from the Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Unity, Royal Malaysia Police, and various Malaysian civil society organisations. This event was dedicated to presenting the research findings and discussing collaborative strategies to combat far-right extremism within Malaysia. The event was highlighted by opening speeches from YB Fahmi Fadzil, Minister of Communications of Malaysia, and Her Excellency Ailsa Terry CMG, Commissioner of the British High Commission in Malaysia. Both guest speakers and participants provided positive feedback, expressing a commitment to recognising and tackling the rising threat of far-right extremism to national harmony and security.

2. Briefing series

Starting in May, INITIATE.MY has been and will continue to actively engage with a range of policy stakeholders, including Malaysian and international governments, tech companies, and media outlets. These engagements involve briefings on research findings to highlight the growing threat of far-right extremism to national harmony and security. The goal of these briefings is to improve policymaking, reporting, and community programming by promoting a multistakeholder approach that is in line with Malaysia’s National Action Plan on Countering and Preventing Violent Extremism (NAPPCVE).

3. Peace Lab for Religious Leaders and Thinkers (PLRT)

Through INITIATE.MY’s flagship programme, PLRT, we have disseminated research findings to young participants, enhancing their understanding of the trends and dynamics of far-right extremism in Malaysia, including how these groups exploit technology to disseminate dangerous narratives and mobilise followers. This programme aims to elevate their awareness and motivate them to take positive actions within their communities and online platforms. This effort aligns with the empowerment of young peace agents under the UN’s Youth, Peace and Security mandate, especially following Malaysia’s implementation of #Undi18.