Jakarta Poll Watchdog Warns Against Provocative Campaigning on Social Networks

By webadmin on 05:37 pm Sep 07, 2012
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Lenny Tristia Tambun

Jakarta General Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) Head Ramdansyah said on Friday that the increased use of racial and religious rhetoric in online campaigning — especially on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter — could face sanctions under the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction.

Online campaigns that use divisive issues and exploitation of ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, known locally by the Indonesian acronym SARA, have become increasingly rampant and often directed towards gubernatorial candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his running mate Basuki Tjahaja Purnomo.

“SARA-[related] issues spread in social networks have to be settled under the Electronic Information and Transaction Law; it is clearly not within our jurisdiction, because the law on regional or presidential elections do not [address] matters related to social networks,” Ramdansyah said, referring to the murky legal realm which social networks occupy.

Social networking channels in particular have seen a rise in incendiary messages in the run-up to the second round of gubernatorial voting on Sept, 20.

Panwaslu, Ramdansyah said, could only process the reports of electoral violations taking place in the public domain, and subsequently follow up with reports filed and witness complaints to back up the allegations. He also said that people on Twitter and other social network platforms were free to ignore the online posts if they wished.

Moderators of social networks also shoulder some responsibility in dismissing contentious account holders from public groups. “That is in the private to private domain, and therefore if [someone] feels disturbed, then just leave the social network group, or the moderator can take action, as each network has its own rules,” he said.

Panwaslu, he said, could not issue sanctions against SARA related remarks through the social networks themselves — but the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction does provide sanctions against violators.

Police, he said, were ultimately the enforcers of the law. “If there are such [messages] spread in the cyber world, then the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction can impose sanctions,” he said.