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Update: Indonesia lifts social media restriction after 3 days

Today on May 27th:  Indonesia lifted restrictions affecting image and video sharing on Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram on Saturday afternoon, reports Netblocks. The restrictions lasted a total of three days. Data during the restrictions showed that internet providers imposed a “sophisticated censorship filtering regime” in place countrywide. While photo and video uploads were blocked, API, backend, and basic features were intentionally left functional. Telkom, XL Axiata Tbk and Indosat are among ISPs that imposed selective filtering. While lifting the ban, the government urged people to maintain positivity, use the internet responsibly, fight against hoaxes and provocation. The day after the ban was lifted, that is on Sunday, Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara in a statement called on Indonesians to uninstall VPN services from their devices, “to avoid the risk of monitoring, collection and piracy of their personal data”.

Earlier on May 23rd: Indonesia yesterday introduced curbs on social media to prevent the spread of hoaxes, reports Reuters. Riots erupted in the capital city Jakarta on Tuesday once President Joko Widodo was declared winner of last month’s election: 6 people were killed and 200 injured. According to the report, fact-checkers said hoaxes and calls for violence on social media spiked. Chief security minister Wiranto said access to certain features on social media will be limited to “avoid provocations and the spread of fake news through the community”. The restrictions prevent people from uploading videos and photos on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Communications minister Rudiantara said the restriction would be temporary and was meant to slow down visual content that could “inflame” emotions.

According to internet monitoring site Netblocks, WhatsApp’s and Facebook’s backend servers have been partially blocked. Internet providers Telkom and XL Axiata Tbk have implemented the restrictions. Some users have also reported difficulty in using Telegram. It adds although the government order indicates that the ban may have been implemented regionally, such variations were not immediately evident.

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Sharing violent videos forbidden under law, warns Indonesia ministry

Indonesia’s communications and information ministry yesterday called on people to refrain from spreading violent content and hate speech via social media. It reminded people that sharing videos containing violence, provocative, incitement and hateful messages based on ethnicity, religion, race and societal groups was forbidden by the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.

Reuters reported that several posts containing violent content and messaging were circulating on WhatsApp. One called for protesters to attack prominent Jakarta sites by hiding explosives, while another showed a since-disproved siege of a mosque by the police. The report said the police officers were disguised as Chinese people.

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