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Indonesian Government Forces Instagram to Close Pro-LGBT Account

Nearly 88 per cent of Indonesia's over 260 million people are Muslims and the majority of them are said to be moderates

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pride flag
The rainbow pride flag of the LGBT community. wikimedia

Popular social network Instagram on Wednesday suspended an account which published comics discussing the problems and acceptance issues faced by the Muslim LGBT community in Indonesia.

The move came after the government asked the social network to remove the gay-friendly account that allegedly published cartoons containing pornographic material and riling many in the country – home to the world’s largest Muslim population.

The Ministry of Information and Communication alleged in a statement that the account, run by a user known only as @Alpantuni, violated the Electronic Information and Transactions Law by distributing content that “breached decency”, according to Efe news.

The Ministry thanked users for their complaints which “accelerated the process” against the handle.

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Thai LGBT community participates in Gay Freedom Day Parade in Bangkok, Thailand. VOA

The comic strips, which showed Muslim gay characters and criticized homophobia and religious fundamentalism in the country, were targeted by a large number of Instagram users, who tagged the Ministry in their comments.

Instagram took the decision after Communication Minister Rudiantara on Monday threatened to shut down the platform in the country unless the company took steps to fulfil the Ministry’s demand.

Homosexuality is legal across Indonesia – except for in Sharia law-ruled Aceh province – and though the LGBT community has yet to meet acceptance, it had been tolerated in the past.

But the Electronic Information and Transactions (EIT) law and the law against pornography have often been used in Indonesia to criminalize homosexuality and the LGBT community, according to non-profit Human Rights Watch.

Edith Windsor
Edie dearly loved the LGBTQ community which loved her right back and held her in reverence for her fight for freedom, equality, and justice. Wikemedia

In February 2018, the government blocked more than 200 mobile applications and websites with content related to homosexuality.

Months later in October, the police arrested two people on the Java Island for running a Facebook page for gays, accusing them of publishing pornography and pressing charges under the EIT law.

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To “safeguard” moral norms on the Internet, the Ministry of Communication has also threatened to shut down other social networks and messaging apps in recent years apart from blocking hundreds of webpages and apps carrying content that promotes homosexuality.

Nearly 88 per cent of Indonesia’s over 260 million people are Muslims and the majority of them are said to be moderates. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Not Going To Allow Foreign-Funded Add That May Influence Indonesia’s Elections

The company said it had also prohibited foreign-funded advertisements for Nigeria's elections in February and for Ukraine's elections later this month.

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Facebook
The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook says it will not allow foreign-funded advertisements for an upcoming presidential election in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, hoping to allay concerns that its platform is being used to manipulate voting behavior.

The announcement on Facebook’s website said the restriction in Indonesia took effect Monday morning and is part of “safeguarding election integrity on our platform.”

Facebook and other internet companies are facing increased scrutiny over how they handle private user data and have been lambasted for not doing enough to stop misuse of their platforms by groups trying to sway elections. Critics say foreign interests, and Russia in particular, used Facebook to harvest private data and disseminate paid ads that may have influenced the outcomes of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union.

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The social media company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp and has about 2.3 billion users for its Facebook site alone, said it’s using a mix of automated and human intervention to identify foreign-funded election ads. Pixabay

Indonesia votes for president on April 17. The campaign pits incumbent leader Joko Widodo against ultranationalist former Gen. Prabowo Subianto, who was narrowly defeated by Widodo in 2014.

The social media company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp and has about 2.3 billion users for its Facebook site alone, said it’s using a mix of automated and human intervention to identify foreign-funded election ads.

Facebook
Critics say foreign interests, and Russia in particular, used Facebook to harvest private data and disseminate paid ads that may have influenced the outcomes of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union. VOA

It said the restriction applies to any ads coming from an advertiser based outside of the country “if it references politicians or political parties or attempts to encourage or suppress voting.”

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The company said it had also prohibited foreign-funded advertisements for Nigeria’s elections in February and for Ukraine’s elections later this month.

For upcoming elections for the European Parliament and India, it has said advertisers will need to be authorized to buy political ads and a new tool will provide information about an ad’s budget, the number of people it reached and demographics about who saw the ad, including age, gender and location. (VOA)