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The Jakarta Post
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Indonesia urges Facebook to open local office

  • Dylan Amirio

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, February 15, 2017 | 08:55 am
Indonesia urges Facebook to open local office Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara (right), accompanied by his legal staff expert, Henri Subiakto (left), attend a hearing with lawmakers at the House of Representatives in Jakarta on Oct.20. (Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

The Communications and Information Ministry has urged Facebook to open a proper local office to enable it to adequately tackle complaints about fake news and negative content that spreads through the social media platform.

Minister Rudiantara conveyed the request during a meeting with the Asia Pacific-based delegation led by Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, on Tuesday, saying that the existence of an official office in Indonesia would enable the firm to better respond to content complaints and improve communication with the government.

Facebook, which has up to 96 million users in Indonesia, runs a small local representative office, while its regional office is located in Singapore.

“The minister [Rudiantara] asked Facebook to step up its service agreement in Indonesia and suggested that a good way to ensure better quality service was to open up an official office here,” said the ministry’s director general for applied informatics, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan.

“This way, it will be able to familiarize itself with the Indonesian perspective and cultural context.”

The Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook is taking new measures to curb the spread of fake news on its huge and influential social network, focusing on the "worst of the worst" offenders and partnering with outside fact-checkers to sort honest news reports from made-up stories that play to people's passions and preconceived notions.(AP/Matt Rourke)

(Read also: Facebook wants drones to boost Indonesia's access to internet)

Semuel added that while Facebook would be responsible for content management, the legal process in relation to the content itself would be carried out by the police and relevant institutions.

Posts promoting terrorism, for example, will require consultation and assessment by the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

Both the public and the ministry’s monitoring team are able to flag inappropriate content.

Fake news, including those related to the racially charged Jakarta gubernatorial election, and overall air of discrimination exhibited by members of the public online, has been plaguing the Indonesian internet recently.

In the past few months, the government has stepped up its battle against the distribution of false information. The police is committed to prosecuting any party behind the spread of the “cancer of democracy.”

To address the fake news and negative content issues, the ministry is set to hold a meeting with Twitter on Feb. 20.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Noor Iza, noted the importance of setting up an official local office, comparing how Twitter, which also has a sizeable number of users in Indonesia, and Facebook manage problems.

“Twitter’s responses toward the complaints and the negative content management are a lot quicker than Facebook because they have an official office here. Therefore, it has an established understanding on what impacts the country negatively,” she said.

The government views that the take down response time for hoax news is ideally less than 24 hours, but the quicker, the better.

From late 2016 to the beginning of 2017, the ministry has received 1,572 complaints in relation to the negative content on social media, including hoax news on Facebook and Instagram, with 197 occurring in the first two months of this year.

The ministry said it was only able to respond to around 60 percent of all complaints in that period.

Complaints about Twitter’s content in the same period reached 3,252, with those related to pornography topping the list.

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