Jakarta. Negative content in the form of hate speech, fake news and divisive ethnic and religious sentiments on social media platforms has a major impact on the mindset and behavior of younger Indonesians and often cultivates intolerant attitudes, a survey by Islamic-based think-tank, the Maarif Institute showed.
The survey was conducted among 835 high school students from Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, Semarang in Central Java and Surabaya in East Java during the "#1nDONEsia: Cerdas Bermedia Sosial" ("Smart on Social Media") training seminar, initiated by the Maarif Institute and YouTube Creators for Change.
The survey showed 57 percent of respondents believe that a teenager who is often exposed to negative content tends to develop an intolerant attitude towards people from other backgrounds.
"Hate speech has a major impact on young people in making them act in an intolerant way, while negative content on the internet strongly promotes incidents of intolerance and discrimination," Maarif Institute research director Khelmy Pribadi told the Jakarta Globe on Monday (11/12).
Khelmy said the recent upsurge in ethnic and religious sentiments online, such as the distinction between so-called pribumi (indigenous) and non-pribumi Indonesians, intensifies a negative view of the differences between people, which is very worrying as those in the younger generation use the internet as their main source of information.
"The number indicates that the heaps of negative content on social media negatively impacts the younger generation," Khelmy said.
The worrying trend led YouTube Creators for Change and the Maarif Institute to present a series of seminars to raise awareness and teach participants to actively combat negative content on social media.
According to the survey, some 70 percent of respondents indicated that they would combat negative content on social media, which increased by 20 percentage points by the end of the seminars.
"A concerted cross-sectoral effort is required to counter negative content by spreading positive content on social media, as well as reporting and speaking up against intolerance," Khelmy said.
He added that the younger generation can start by not simply ignoring fake news or negative posts and instead flagging or reporting it, because social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube provide mechanisms for that purpose.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has recorded 13,829 cases of hate speech, 6,973 of fake news stories and 13,120 involving pornographic postings on social media so far this year.
The government had also blocked 782,316 websites as of September.
Recent surveys have showed that Jakarta is the most intolerant city in Indonesia.
The rising level of intolerance in the world's largest Muslim population country has alarmed the authorities.