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Ministry blocks DNS services behind WhatsApp's GIF feature

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, November 8, 2017 | 01:11 pm
Ministry blocks DNS services behind WhatsApp's GIF feature

WhatsApp's GIF feature is no longer available to users of several mobile operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) since Monday. The Communications and Information Ministry as blocked the third-party services that support the feature following reports of 'pornographic content' from members of the public. (Shutterstock/File)

Users of the WhatsApp messaging application in Indonesia will no longer be able to access its GIF feature, kompas.com reports, as the Communications and Information Ministry has blocked Tenor, the feature’s Domain Name System (DNS), on Monday.

According to the kompas.com report, the GIF feature is no longer available to users of several mobile operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including Telkomsel, Indosat Ooredoo, XL, FirstMedia and Bolt.

Searching for GIFs will result in a blank page on WhatsApp's desktop version, while an error message will appear on smartphones that says: "Check your phone’s internet connection and try again."

WhatsApp returns an error message when trying to access its GIF feature on a smartphone.WhatsApp returns an error message when trying to access its GIF feature on a smartphone. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

WhatsApp's desktop version redirects to a blank screen when trying to access its GIF feature. WhatsApp's desktop version redirects to a blank screen when trying to access its GIF feature. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

The ministry had received many reports since Sunday morning on “pornographic content” that was being circulated in the GIF file format via social media and messaging applications, including WhatsApp. The GIF file format supports both static and animated images.

Parents were said to be concerned that the moving images would affect their children negatively.

Read also: WhatsApp responds to lewd GIF images controversy

“On Sunday afternoon, I placed a direct call to Facebook, the owner of the app,” Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan the ministry’s director general of informatics, said in a press release.

The ministry’s Content Report Team (Tim Aduan Konten) found that lewd GIF images could be found by typing in certain keywords, and that the images were provided by third-party apps Tenor.com and Giphy.com. The ministry requested on Sunday evening that the apps take down the inappropriate content, but only Giphy.com responded.

Giphy.com will filter GIF images that fall under the negative and lewd content categories and make them unavailable in Indonesia within three days.

However, as Tenor.com had not responded, the ministry went ahead on Monday morning and blocked the six Tenor.com DNS services tenor.com, api.tenor.com, blog.tenor.com, qa.tenor.com, media.tenor.com and media1.tenor.com.

The Content Report Team has also urged WhatsApp to remove all lewd GIF images to date and ensure that its third-party organizations did the same. “If they don’t do that within 2 x 24 hours [to Wednesday], then the ministry will place sanctions, including blocking [the third-party services], said Semmy. (wir/asw)

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