The Project Team

Dr. Crystal Abidin (Curtin University) is a digital anthropologist and ethnographer of vernacular internet cultures. She researches young people’s relationships with internet celebrity, self-curation, and vulnerability. Her books include Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online (2018), and Microcelebrity Around the Globe: Approaches to Cultures to Cultures of Internet Fame (2019), and her forthcoming books investigate Instagram cultures, Influencer cultures, and the Blogshop industry.

She is listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia (2018) and Pacific Standard 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 (2016). Crystal is DECRA Fellow/Senior Research Fellow in Internet Studies at Curtin University, and Affiliate Researcher with the Media Management and Transformation Centre (MMTC) at Jönköping University. Reach her at

Dr. Niki Cheong (University of Nottingham, UK) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research interest lies in the intersection of media, politics and digital culture – focusing on issues of mis/disinformation and political information on the internet. He is currently working on a project studying supporters of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of, and following, the recent UK General Election. He is also part of an 11-country comparative study of media representation during the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Niki was formerly a journalist at The Star, Malaysia’s largest English daily, and served as editor of its international award-winning (digital) media platform R.AGE. In 2017, he published his first book Growing Up in KL: 10 Years of The Bangsar Boy featuring writings from his newspaper column which ran for over 11 years. Connect with him at


Dr. Natalie Pang (National University of Singapore) received her PhD in Information Technology from Monash University, Australia, where her research on participatory technologies in communities won her two awards — the Vice Chancellor’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence, and the Faculty of Information Technology Doctoral Medal.

Her teaching and research interest is focused on community informatics, with basic and applied research of new media in various community contexts to support social, cultural and civic engagement in these communities. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Archives & Manuscripts, Computers in Human Behavior, Media Culture & Society, Online Information Review and New Media & Society.


Dr. Amelia Johns (University of Technology Sydney) is a Senior Lecturer in Digital and Social Media in the School of Communication, UTS. Her work spans the fields of digital media and youth citizenship studies, with a focus on young people’s negotiation of identity, racism, civic and political engagement and activism in digitally networked publics.

Her most recent research project examined Malaysian-Chinese youth everyday digital practices, and the role they play in negotiating forms of political activism and citizenship. She is the author of Battle for the Flag‘ (2015), and co-editor of Negotiating Digital Citizenship: Control, Contest, Culture‘ (with Anthony McCosker and Son Vivienne, 2016). She is currently Co-Chair of  first year unit: Citizenship and Communication at UTS. She is also lead researcher on ARC Discovery project: ‘Fostering Global Digital Citizenship: Diaspora Youth in a Connected World’.

Dr Joanne Lim is Associate Professor of Communication, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham in Malaysia. She is Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and holds a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies and an MA in Global Media from the University of East London, UK. She was appointed as Visiting Research Fellow with the National University of Singapore and Visiting Senior Fellow with the London School of Economics.
Her research focuses on the role of the ‘digital’ (politics, culture, economy) in relation to smart cities and sustainable/regenerative development, and her interests include topics on popular culture, the creative industries, public advocacy and civic participation in the Malaysian context. Her current projects include: Decoding the Weaponising of Pop Culture on WhatsApp in Singapore & Malaysia; Mental Health and Suicide Reporting; and Social Media Sentiment Analysis on Palm Oil.
She is Associate Editor of Media Asia (Routledge) and has authored a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters including Mobile Media and Youth Engagement in Malaysia (2014), and Rhizomatic Behaviours in Social Media: V-logging and the Independent Film Industry in Malaysia (2013) and has been invited to speak at numerous conferences worldwide. She delivered a keynote at the recent Digital Transactions in Asia III conference. 



The team members from this study have collaborated on WhatsApp research projects with the following collaborators in various capacities. Click on their names to visit their academic profiles.