If there’s one thing that Indonesians can agree on when asked what smartphones and the internet are most useful for, it would be to access social media and messaging applications.
A survey conducted by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) and the Indonesian Telecommunications Society (Mastel) showed that 95.1 percent of respondents use smartphones to access social media applications, while 73.7 percent said they use it to access messaging applications.
The survey was conducted across the country from October to November involving 1,020 respondents, more than half of them are high school and university students, followed by professionals and entrepreneurs.
The most popular social media applications among the respondents are Instagram with 82.6 percent, while 66.5 percent named Facebook and 49.6 percent said they liked Pinterest.
The top chat application is Line with 90.5 percent respondents, followed by WhatsApp and Blackberry Messenger with 79.3 percent and 33.10 percent respectively.
Typical of these users is 19-year-old waitress Andini Sugeha, who says she uses Facebook most of the time but the features she most uses are messaging services.
Uploading photos and chatting with friends are what draws user to these applications the most.
“I use Facebook to upload photos while I also do that on Instagram, and I use WhatsApp as well to chat,” Andini said.
Media professional Ami Afriatni said she has been on Facebook for a decade and still uses it mainly to stay in touch with friends and families living in faraway places, while for her works she finds Twitter is most useful.
“It is helpful to get news updates, personal insights public figures might offer or official statements of some credible organizations. People also often take to Twitter to respond to recent issues and to express their stance,” Ami said.
As a budding photographer, she uses Instagram to sharpen her photographic skills, adding that the entertainment aspect of the photo sharing platform is the main draw for her.
In a reflection to the APJII and Mastel survery, Ami said social media and messaging applications are equally important but agreed that social media platforms have reached maturity while messaging applications are more important.
“I think there are rooms for improvement for this, let’s say creating a messaging applications that are more friendly to elders or communities who are less exposed to technology,” she added.
But the proliferation of hate speech, hoax and fake news on Facebook, especially as they relate to political preference, has made the world’s largest social networking platform no longer as enjoyable as it used to be, she said.
Internet stakeholders in Indonesia are well aware of the problems and in anticipation of regional elections this year, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, APJII and Elections Supervisory Body have launched a campaign against online hoaxes.
The three agencies, along with local representatives of internet giants including Google, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, Line, MeTube, Bigo Live and Live Me signed on Feb 7 a memorandum of understanding to curb the spread of hate speech and fake news related to the elections.
ICT Minister Rudiantara said the drive to issue such declaration started in 2016 and every party involved in the online ‘ecosystem’ had an obligation to be part of it.
“So, there is no reason for service provider not to takedown [negative content] when the General Elections Committee and Elections Supervisory Body request for it because they are the independent bodies that organise the elections and are well aware of election rules and regulations,” Rudiantara said.
APJII chairman Jamalul Izza, said application providers and related parties agreed it was time for joint effort to curb negative content, as previous experience during the divisive presidential election in 2014 and Jakarta gubernatorial election last year showed how content that incited hate and misinformation directed at some candidates can flourish and go viral.
“Therefore, as the internet ecosystem in the country we agreed to safeguard the 2018 regional elections to make them free from negative contents and hate speech,” Jamalul said.
An APJII survey released in November showed that there were 132.7 million internet users in Indonesia, out of its 256 million population.
The ICT Ministry has been stepping up its efforts to ensure that the material available online does not breach local standards for behavior and morality. That includes material related to homosexual activity. In January, it asked Google to suspend applications related to LGBT activities from its Google Play Store so that they are no longer accessible in Indonesia.
It also said it has handled 72,407 complaints regarding pornographic content on the internet in January. Earlier in the month, the ministry has begun to operate an artificial intelligence-based censorship system to using keywords to detect and crawl pornographic content online.
The US$14-million dollar machine was installed following years of manual monitoring that failed to curb the flood of illicit contents on the internet, especially pornographic material. A ministry team will evaluate and verify the data crawled and take the necessary measures such as blocking the sites if they are validated to have inappropriate content.
“Global and national internet providers are urged to be active in ensuring the availability of positive contents and suppress negative material from spreading,” ministry spokesman Noor Iza said.
The story first appeared in Bangkok Post