Communications Minister Rudiantara, left, and State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Budi Gunawan seem during a press briefing at the offices of Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs in Jakarta on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Dhemas Reviyanto)

Instagram, Facebook Also Throttled to Limit Spread of False Information on May 22 Protest Violence


MAY 22, 2019

Jakarta. Besides throttling popular instant messaging platform WhatsApp, the government has also slowed down some features on popular social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook.

The authorities are dealing with mass protests by supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who is refusing to acknowledge the official election result showing a 55.5 percent victory for the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

In addition to violent clashes on Jakarta's streets early Wednesday, the internet has been flooded with videos, photos and screenshots that create a false impression that the May 22 protests by Prabowo supporters have plunged Indonesia into chaos and that the security forces are responding with a heavy hand.

Police confirmed that it had ordered officers not to use any sharp ammunition while facing protestors in front of the offices of the General Elections Commission (KPU) and Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) in Central Jakarta.

Communications Minister Rudiantara said the limitations on some features of social media and instant messaging platforms are aimed at reducing the spread of false information on the protests, which turned violent early Wednesday.

"The limitations on some features of social media and messaging platforms is temporary and will be implemented gradually," the minister said during a press briefing at the offices of Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The minister confirmed that Instagram and Facebook – two of the most popular social media platforms in the world's fourth-most populous nation – are affected by the restrictions.

He said uploading to and downloading from these platforms would be slow from Wednesday, for the next two days.

"We will all experience a slowdown in uploading or downloading videos [from those platforms]," Rudiantara said.

Do Not Share Harmful Photos, Videos of May 22 Rally

The communications ministry also urged the public on Wednesday to refrain from sharing harmful content and hate speech related to the protest. Here are the key points:

  1. In response to the spread of harmful content related to the May 22 rally, which could be in the form of video footage showing violent acts and chaos, as well as hoaxes involving old video footage updated with new captions that contain hate speech, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology calls on netizens to immediately delete and refrain from sharing or making viral such content. This includes photographs, pictures and videos of victims of violence during the rally.
  2. This call is made in response to the widespread dissemination of content in the form of photographs, pictures and videos, that provide oxygen to the instigators of the violent protests, who seek to spread fear in the community. 
  3. The communications ministry calls on netizens to share information that encourage peace and to avoid sharing content that may stoke public fears, including provocation and hate speech against anyone.
  4. The distribution and spreading of video content containing violence, provocative messages and hate speech based on ethnicity, religion, race and social division could be in breach to Law No. 19 of 2016, which is a revision of Law No. 11 of 2009, also known as the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.
  5. The communications ministry continues to monitor internet traffic, content and social media accounts with the use of the ministry's web-crawling machine, supported by 100 verifiers. The ministry is cooperating with the National Police to identify and track accounts that spread harmful content depicting violent acts or provocative messages. 
  6. The communications ministry  also calls on the public to report any provocative content related to the violent protests in Jakarta they may find on any websites or social media platforms to, or Twitter account @aduankonten.