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7 Weird Facts About How Malaysians Use the Internet

Ah, the Internet. That powerful thing that enables anyone to take a video of someone doing something stupid and make it viral across the world.

The Internet has also managed to keep people closer through messaging apps, although by now you have probably muted all of those annoying Whatsapp groups with your relatives.

The traits above are universal, but how about Internet behaviour that is particular to us Malaysians? Do we use our data quota differently from the rest of the world? To answer this question, We Are Social together with Hootsuite, both experts on social media insights,  released a report about the Malaysian digital landscape in 2019.

And boy, did we find some juicy stuff:

1. Yahoo is the 5th most visited site

Yahoo was once the home page on every computer. It was a huge Internet directory – you could spend hours browsing through their catalogues of news, finance, sports, and pretty much everything else. In other words, if your website wasn’t on Yahoo back then, it didn’t exist.

More than just a portal, Yahoo also dominated the instant messenger market, pitting against MSN Messenger and ICQ. Next, there was Geocities, everyone’s favourite website builder through the use of horrible layouts and flashy GIFs.

Feel old yet? Credit: Flickr.

But now in 2019, even having a Yahoo email is an embarrassment, especially if you’re still using the ‘[email protected]’ handle you created when you were 10.

So who are these people still holding on to this old search engine? According to a user on Quora, people keep coming back for its content. Yet when we visited the site, the content is mostly syndicated news from the likes of Malay Mail.

So unless Yahoo was set as the default home page by PC manufacturers, we really have no other hypothesis on how they still manage to stand among the giants.

2. ‘Toto’ is among the top Google searches

Just to get one thing out of the way, this ‘Toto’ is not that comfortable blanket brand, nor it is the group of men who blessed the rain of Africa.

‘Toto’, in this context, is also followed by ‘4D’ and ‘result 4D’, so it is pretty much self-explanatory.

This search term doesn’t seem to be a new phenomenon. According to Google Trends, ‘Toto’ and its variants have had a steady search volume over the past five years, as shown below.

The trend is as flat as your chance winning one. Image credit: Google Trends.

What’s interesting, however, is that most gambling websites are blocked in Malaysia. So we wonder whether these people have actually managed to get past the censorship. And judging by the number of porn sites that appear on SimilarWeb’s (an analytics provider) list…we wonder no more.

3. Half of the Internet users are using Grab or similar services

This section is more wholesome than weird, seeing the adoption of technology to be quite high in this country. Global Web Index conducted a survey among Malaysian Internet users and found that:

  • 28% use voice search or voice commands. This can help make driving safer.
  • 48% use ride-hailing services. This can help reduce the number of cars on the road.
  • 51% use ad-blocking tools. This is sad for online publishers but OK.
  • 35% use a virtual private network (VPN). Ah, this explains the gambling and porn sites…

4. A Taiwanese and an Indonesian website are among the top 20

Alexa’s Top Sites in Malaysia has some questionable items on their list.

First, there’s coco02.net that looks like a viral content curator. The language on the site is  in Traditional Chinese, and their biggest audience comes from Taiwan, so we assume that this is a Taiwanese website. Their second biggest audience is Malaysian – fair enough, perhaps some Malaysians prefer to read their Mandarin the old-fashioned way.

Skulls, cat, and anime. Your one-stop entertainment hub. Image credit: coco01

Then, there’s Tribunnews.com that looks like a proper news site and clearly an Indonesian one. However, despite being listed as the 19th most visited website in Malaysia, Malaysian barely make to the top 5 of their audience. That’s suspicious. How does Alexa even rate these websites to begin with?

Even Ahok is scratching his head over this phenomenon. Image credit: tribunnews.com

So we looked at the full list again, and we noticed that no porn sites were present (or maybe they were excluded). This is where the doubt started to kick in. You can’t simply trust a top website list without porn sites in it.

In all seriousness, according to Alexa, they rank websites based on “many different browser extensions” and “sites that have chosen to install the Alexa script on their site”. From our observation of friends, families and fellow site owners – we don’t know anyone who has these extensions or scripts installed.

5. Malaysian do love their songs and cartoons

There’s a lot of gems to be found on Top YouTube Search Queries in Malaysia.

First, most of the top-searched terms are evergreen. The top five alone consist of ‘movie’, ‘lagu’, ‘live’, ‘baby’, and ‘karaoke’. So you if you want to get a viral YouTube hit – you know what to do – live stream a baby singing karaoke. Boom. Profit!

Other than singing, Malaysians also love their homegrown animated series including Upin and Ipin, Boboiboy and Didi & Friends. There’s also a ‘kiss’ search query.  We aren’t sure what it refers to, but we’re certain it’s not Gene Simmons & Friends.

One term in particular that caught our eyes is ‘blackpink’. Since we at travel360.com are mostly in our early 30s, we naturally thought that this is a new Nippon Paint colour. Needless to say, we are totally out of the loop when it comes to the latest pop culture obsession. Watching the video below, we are now enlightened, we are awake, and soon we’ll get obsessed too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHNzOHi8sJs

6. iPhone is only the fourth most popular smartphone

Lazada being the top search term on Google Shopping comes as no surprise. We all most likely have one pending delivery at this very moment, excitedly anticipating the mailman to ring the doorbell at any time now.

Ah, the sweet smell of a freshly opened Poslaju package. Image credit: Wikimedia.

Next on the list are smartphones. The first three phone brands are Samsung, Huawei and Oppo, with iPhone following right after.

Also included in the list is Lego, the timeless toy enjoyed by both the younger crowd and the older ones. Particularly the older ones, who dedicate countless hours of their weekends building a full set of Millennium Falcon. No judgment here.

7. Second most searched term in Google is…Google?

Now, we understand when people have Yahoo or Bing as the default search engine on their browser, and they don’t know how to change it, hence they search for Google every time.

But… who searches for ‘Google’ on Google itself??!! The only hypothesis we have is that some of these people are using Chrome. Hence when they type ‘Google’ in Chrome’s address bar, it is considered a search in itself.

However, for the sake of the greater good, we advise you NOT to do this. In the immortal words of Jenn from IT Crowd: “If you type Google into Google, you can break the Internet!”

What do you think?

Written by MK Zainal

MK was once involved in a magic gig. You know the trick where they cut a person into half? He was one of the halves.

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