social media

Social Media Giants Face Extinction Under Anti-Extremism Push

The government has tipped an outright ban on social media networks as part of a crackdown on radicalisation and communications among terrorists and criminals online.

IT Minister Rudiantara made the comments during an anti-terror address to students of Universitas Padjajaran in Bandung, West Java, on Saturday, July 15.

Rudiantara said the government previously called on networks to remove and ban radical posts and users but at this stage, just 50 percent of material has been removed. He noted a 22-year-old terror suspect had found instructions for building a rice cooker bomb online.

“If there is no improvement we will really consider closing the platform, we are sorry if we have to because we want to maintain relations so the social media technology can be properly utilised,” the minister said, as reported by Detik.

The address came following an abrupt limiting of messaging service Telegram late last week.

“This has to be done because many channels on (Telegram) are full of radical and terrorist propaganda, hatred, ways to make bombs, how to carry out attacks, disturbing images, which are all in conflict with Indonesian law,” the IT Ministry said in a statement released on its website after the ban.

The service offers end-to-end encryption for all users which has seen it used widely among terror cells. Telegram has previously reported 100 million active users with around 15 billion messages sent daily, the vast majority of which are believed to not be suspicious.

A statement issued by Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said the banning was the result of ‘miscommunication’ between the ministry and the Russia-based app.

“It made me upset to hear that the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and IT suggested they would have to block Telegram in Indonesia. It turns out the officials of the Ministry recently emailed us a list of public channels with terrorism-related content on Telegram and our team was unable to quickly process them,” he said in a post on his public channel.

Together, the ministry and Telegram have devised a three-step plan to resolve the issue: blocking all ‘terrorist-related’ channels requested by the ministry, establishing direct communications between the CEO and the ministry and forming an Indonesian-language team of moderators to focus on terror material originating from or targeting the region.

Rudiantara made international headlines early last year after forcing South Korean messaging giant LINE to remove pro-LGBT stickers from the service in Indonesia or face a ban.

See: Is Facebook Opening Up A Domestic Unit In Indonesia?

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Erin Cook is an Australian expat in Indonesia and the head of English editorial at Content Collision.


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