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Fitri Anugrah

socialmediaiconPublished: 4 October 2011

Country: Indonesia

By Fitri Adi Anugrah

Social media provide easily accessible tools for people to spread information to a wider audience, but they can do damage when their messages are hateful. That's why it is important for the Indonesian public to confront the problem of hate speech in the social media in Indonesia.

Social media have played a major role in major news events this year. In Egypt they helped people express their opinions in the momentous events that brought political change earlier this year and in London people used social media to follow the riots.

But it is when the social media message is threatening someone else, spreading hatred, inciting violence or justifying terrorism that it creates a potential problem by encouraging others to do the same.

If you type in YouTube’s search bar “Amrozi”, a name familiar in Indonesia as someone who was executed by the government for his part in the Bali bombing in 2002, you can find a video viewed by more than 31,000 people. It shows Imam Samudera and Ali Gufron who were also executed for Bali bombing saying that ‘jihad means war on those who are against Islam’.

Is this hate speech? Is it incitement to further violence? It is difficult to control who postsfitrimap what in social media, even for the government, and it is just as difficult to define precisely what constitutes hate speech. As Moh Yasir Alimi wrote in the Jakarta Post, “The state apparatus claims to have no solid evidence to take action”.

Social media do have terms of use on what cannot be posted in their site. For instance, the YouTube community guideline said that they prohibit hate speech attacking certain groups. But it is difficult for YouTube or other social media to monitor postings from millions of its users in particular if the language used in the video is not in international languages.

YouTube say they review postings that are flagged as inappropriate to determine whether those postings are violating the terms of use. There is a similar feature in Facebook. Using these mechanisms the public can report abusive speech and stop the dissemination of hate speech.

It's time for everyone to be proactive in preventing dangerous and hateful messages. One click on the flag button on an abusive posting will be a small start. But if enough people do it, we will stop the march of extremists and peddlers of hatred in their tracks.

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