The government is deliberately limiting WhatsApp services to make it harder to upload photos, videos and memes. (SP/Joanito De Saojoao)

Gov't Slows Down WhatsApp to Stop Hoaxes


MAY 22, 2019

Jakarta. WhatsApp users in Indonesia will find it more difficult to upload pictures and videos on the popular messaging app as the government slows down the service to stop people from spreading hoaxes and provocative content. 

Communications Minister Rudiantara said on Wednesday the government is deliberately limiting the service to make it harder for people to upload photos, videos or memes.

He said the authorities are working hard to contain the spread of fake news, hoaxes and provocative content related to Wednesday's clashes between supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and security officers. 

"We will limit [the service] gradually," the minister said in a press briefing at the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Law and Security headquarters in Jakarta on Wednesday. 

"We know the modus operandi [of hoaxers]... [they spread them] through videos, photos, memes and screen captures on social media, including Facebook and Instagram. They can also go viral on WhatsApp," Rudiantara said.

He said WhatsApp users in Indonesia will find it slower to download or upload photos and videos.

"Why? Because too much negative content has gone viral. The disadvantages are greater than the benefits," the minister said.

He said people looking to update themselves with news about the election protests should turn to mainstream media, instead of relying on content posted on social media. 

Rudiantara did not explain how the government is limiting services on the California-based platform.

Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto said he regrets that the government has to resort to the move, but maintained it is being done for the sake of national security. "[For] three days, we won't be able to look at pictures. I think we'll be fine. This is for the national interests," he said.