The Jakarta Post
In their anger at the decision of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to allow his Democratic Party lawmakers to walk out of a crucial vote to scrap the direct election of local leaders, Indonesians took to popular microblogging website Twitter, setting it abuzz with a hashtag that became a worldwide trending topic over the weekend.
Indonesians sent more than 250,000 tweets with the hashtag #ShameOnYouSBY over the weekend, making it the number one trending topic worldwide before it mysteriously disappeared on Saturday evening.
Its disappearance further lit up Twitter, with many blaming the site for its for its content withholding policy, which can only be applied in response to an official request filed by a government or law enforcement institution.
'From being the top trending topic, #ShameOnYouSBY has now gone. You can remove a hashtag but you can never remove how you made your people feel,' said Twitter user Denny Dharma, who used @denny_dj-nguk as his handle.
Political activist and local Twitter celebrity Fadjroel Rachman, described the government's alleged actions as embarrassing.
'It's really shameful if the Indonesian government has asked Twitter to remove the hashtag,' Fadjroel said from his Twitter account @Fadjroel.
Twitter has yet to respond to the allegation that the removal of #ShameOnYouSBY from the list of worldwide trending topics was based on a formal request from the Indonesian government, but has said: 'Twitter does not comment on rumors or speculation'.
Twitter, in its official statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Sunday, also said that during the first half of 2014, the Indonesian government had made zero requests for account information and zero requests for content removal.
Not long after #ShameOnYouSBY disappeared from the trending topic list, Twitter users responded by creating the new hashtag #ShamedByYou, which soon became another trending topic early on Sunday.
To lend credence to the speculation that the Indonesian government had intervened, Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring made a controversial statement on Sunday, implying that the government had the authority to block Twitter from the country.
'Some countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have shut down Twitter in their country. So far Indonesia has never done such a thing, any suggestions?' Tifatul said on his Twitter account @tifsembiring.
The statement saw many condemn Tifatul appearing to propose such a ban.
One Twitter user, known by his handle @barcelonabryan, became an instant Twitter celebrity for a snarky comment to response to Tifatul's tweet on the possibility of blocking Twitter.
'Countries like China, Pakistan and North Korea have also forced their ministers to end their lives. Indonesia so far has not done it. Any suggestions?' said the Twitter user, who had 2,447 followers.
The statement had been retweeted 190 times as of Sunday evening.
Tifatul later clarified that his ministry had no plan to block Twitter. (idb)
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