ELSAM, Jakarta- Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) held a focused group discussion to discuss the correlation between the spreading of hoax and fake news as part of disinformation, and the emerging violent extremism. The discussion took place on 13 September 2017. ELSAM invited the active participants from civil society, intermediaries, government, journalists, and academician. The discussion talked more on the spreading hoax, fake news and other disinformation, including the definition and triggering factors.
The phenomenon of hoax and fake news together with the rising tension of extremism have raised a question about their correlation. The participants of discussion agreed that hoax and fake news have fertilized the growing extremism. As described by Agus Sudibyo from Indonesia New Media Watch,” Disinformation in the form of fake news and hoax have been the vitamin for the violent extremism.”
Meanwhile, Roysepta Abimanyu from Presidential Staff Office (KSP) highlighted the rising tension of extremism recently. The stronger extremism movement in the form of mass movement appearred after the 411 and 212 events in which their actions were mostly triggered by hoax and fake news. This movement itself tried to eliminate other views which are different from their extreme narration.
On the other hand, society has not had enough capacity to select the information they received from internet or social media. Thus, they are easily provoked by fake news. Low literacy affects to their low capacity in doing verification and accuracy on the information they perceived.
In such situation then the intermediaries’ roles or service provider companies become important both in their access or social media. Roles or responsibility of the intermediaries are at least in the three levels: (i) educate the customers to encourage the digital literacy, especially related to selecting the information; (ii) provide the complaint unit to do verification about the truth from the spreading information; and (iii) take part to minimize the spreading of hoax and fake news using the technology they develop.
The state itself seems slow to respond the acceleration of information spreading in the internet. Even, in responding hoax and fake news, the state seems indecisive since the emerging rumours are closely related to political power. Therefore, when the state takes an action, they are worried of violating freedom of expression and opinion.
Whereas state must take strategic role and become simultanous in handling hoax and fake news. Responding that, Roichatul Aswidah from Komnas HAM reminded that right will always be side by side with obligation, and it does not only apply to society, but also to the state. The state obligation is to guard the citizens’ rights in freedom of expression. Therefore, in terms of restriction, especially in handling hoax and fake news, Roi reminded that the state should refer to the allowed principles of restriction.