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Can We Stop Hoaxes for Concurrent Election 2018 ?

Can We Stop Hoaxes for Concurrent Election 2018 ?

Since we live in the post-truth era, we are struggling with the fast-paced of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), though we are also here without any forwardness toward the era of the digital evolution. Hoax and hate speech in the social media are transforming into a phenomena, snowballing the effect up until both become the center of everyone’s attention, including the government’s, at least for the last one year.

Asosiasi Penyelenggara Jasa Internet Indonesia (APJII), the association of domestic internet providers, marks that more than 106 millions Indonesians, or at least 40% of the total population, are actively using and facilitating social media as a part of their daily life by the year of 2016. This could be possibly related to the rise of the dispersion of hoax and hate speech, knowing that the social media is the platform, or we can say the medium, of character assassination in political context.

In 2017, there are at least 900 reports being submitted to the Cyber Crime Division from the Police of the Republic of Indonesia, all of which are cases of hoax and hate speech. According to MASTEL, above than 91% of these reported hoaxes were triggered by the elections, and unfortunately has become a kind of  ‘trend’ introduced on the brink of every election. This trend could easily grows into a bigger problem, for example shaping or even changing public views amongst the candidates. It is perhaps a challenge, but it is not how politic works. These deliberate shifts make opinions are no longer independent. Once again, the election lost its soul.

2018 will be the next political year as the country is running toward the concurrent election, followed in 2019 we will facing the Presindential Election too. If we had a chance to look back to the previous election, we can simply learn that this year’s information and technological issues are not the first to occur. During the presidential election of 2014 and DKI Jakarta’s gubernatorial election of 2017, these black campaign issues were in the shape of buzzers. Buzzers systematically generate fake news content and hate speech. Saracen Group was named as one of those political buzzers, economically motivated in the mean of producing various contents of hoax, leading to the character assassination or even the schism among public.

Shahram Heshmat, an economic behaviorist from the University of Illinois, explained the relation between confirmation bias and the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When it comes to the idea of seeing is believing, people would generate certain idea or concept that would eventually become true and be believed. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered had so far confirmed the views (prejudices) they would like to be true. Confirmation bias in receiving information makes people careless about how something actually happened. Then, ‘echo chambers’ is another thing. Echo chambers is a concept of how the information spreads from one to another like an echo, and social media is the echo chambers of our time.

Anonymous accounts, as well as robotically operated account (bot), makes it hard for the Cyber Crime Division to actually ‘patrol’ on social media accounts. Identities are hidden, wars of opinion is the new kind of war, and social media is no longer a place where one can be interacted socially through bits of world wide web.

However, in order to prevent and to contain the massive spreading of contents of hoax and hate speech on our way to the next elections, there are growing concerns in public to push the government to ratify the Information and Electronic Transaction Bill, known as UU ITE. Besides, we could also participate through reporting or blocking those undesirable accounts according to the community guidelines of every social media platforms.

 At last, there is an important thing about welcoming the era of social media and digital evolution: digital communication literacy. Alliteration in using social media could lead into serious apostasy, disabling us from filtering and validating information. The credibility of every news is important, especially knowing from where do the news come from.

Social media did not cause the disunion among voters in this election. However, as politics has become increasingly entangled with social media, online and offline political talks and actions are no longer separated. In the era of Information warfare especially in cyberspace we should improve our awareness to filtering information.

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About Fahmy Yusuf

Sarjana Humaniora Universitas Indonesia, Magister Pertahanan Universitas Pertahanan. Editorial Ruang Rakyat.