Indonesia president blasted for urging social media monitoring

Activists say government officials should focus on actual duties and not spend time monitoring social media as recommended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Activists in Indonesia have blasted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for suggesting government officials should actively monitor social media to prevent social conflict.

A The Jakarta Post report Monday cited Zainal Abidin, activist with the Institute for Research and Advocacy (Elsam), who said government officials need to look deeper into social issues instead of relying on social media monitoring. "Social conflicts continue to occur because the government never deals with the root of the problems," he said.

Zainal added that turning to social media could be counterproductive in addressing social issues as the officials would need to monitor these outlets on top of their regular jobs.

The report noted it would be a tough feat for officials to track all social media activities as the country had 40.6 million Facebook users, 29.4 million Twitter users, and 3 million active bloggers.

According to Ignatius Haryanto, media observer from the Institute for Press Development and Studies (LSPP), Indonesian citizens would not have turned to social media to make complaints if the government had handled social conflict effectively. Instead, government failed to bring closure to a number of violent conflicts and even allowed victims of religious clases to be punished, for example, in the case of Tajul Muluk who was the leader of the Shia community in Sampang, Madura, East Java, said Ignatius.

According to Jakarta Post, the president on Friday urged governors, regents, mayors, heads of local police, and local military commanders to all have a social media presence. "We are in the age of social media. Therefore, you should also be there," Yudhoyono said. "Do not allow inaccurate information--which can incite violence--to circulate. Be there [online] to ensure information is correct. Educate [the public] to not only speak the truth but to refrain from causing chaos."

In other parts of Asia, China actively monitors and censors political social media content,  while India has purposed building a central monitoring system to intercept phone calls and monitor social networking sites.


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