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Telegram Blocked & Claimed As A Source of New Terrorist Threats. Is It True?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Two weeks ago, the internet was buzzing about the hashtag #BoikotStarbucks (Starbucks Boycott, you can check our previous article about it here ) as the online movement planned to revoke Starbucks’ franchise permit in Indonesia because their ideology were not in sync with the nation’s perspective, views and beliefs. It appeared both the pros and cons on this issue. However, another issue emerged unexpectedly last Friday. The Ministry of Communication and Information (Kemkominfo) started to block web access for the popular instant messaging app, Telegram. According to kumparan.com, there were at least 11 Domain Name System (DNS) that was blocked by the government at around 12.00 P.M.

It all started from monitoring on media content that is considered to violate the policy of Electronic Information and Transaction (UU-ITE). Since the beginning of July 2017, the ministry and several institutions like Polri, BNPT, & BIN have been monitored more than 600 content. Some negative content was acted upon in terms of technological controls, such as blocking for sites and suspending on social media accounts. On Telegram, they have identified at least 55 channels that refer to radicalism and the act of terrorism. Therefore, the Ministry has sent an email regarding the request for blocking all negative content in Telegram. Courtesy from detik.com, Samuel Pangerapan, general director of informatics applications at the ministry, said that they already sent at least six emails from 29 March 2016 till 11 July 2017 with no response from them.

Telegram is an instant messaging platform from Russia, created by Pavel Durov. Some of the well-known features of Telegram is that it is able to accommodate 10,000 members on one group chat, can transfer data up to 1.5 GB on the web platform, and can destroy the message within the set time. Also, it’s strictly encrypted. This is one of the reasons why Telegram is a channel that is commonly mentioned for the propaganda of radicalism, terrorism, hatred, conduct attacks, and recently even a content about how to assemble bombs. Samuel also said the app is used to recruit Indonesians into militant groups, to spread hate and methods for carrying out attacks including bomb making. Other facts also proved by the Ministry that there are 17 acts of terror in Indonesia from 23 December 2015 till 8 July 2017 which communicated on Telegram.

The viral issue started to rise on Friday evening and peaked on Sunday. By using our tools, we have tracked the first person who posted about the Telegram blocking issue on Twitter, and it was from DailySocial at 16.47 P.M. while on Facebook, followed by Kompas.com ‘s post at 16.54 P.M. Trendinalia Indonesia also noted that the keyword Telegram became a trending topic on Twitter for 15 hours. Many media portals are still reporting on the development of this issue. Let’s see how much buzz this issue actually generated on social!

To summarize, Detikcom ’s tweet generated the highest number of viral reach with 2,011,162. On Facebook, Viva Indonesia ’s post appears to be the most shared, 3,632 times to be exact, while Forum Kaskus received the most replied threads with 236 times which was started by W32.Sality.AE.

Recently, Telegram has responded to the message and blocked all channels relating to terrorism. As the CEO of Telegram, Pavel Durov also apologized and admitted for the late responding to email on this situation last Sunday. On the other hand, the Ministry has some form of a special request if they want to remain accessible in Indonesia. Some of them are the making of Government Channel, receiving an authority as a Trusted Flagger, and requesting to open a representative office in Indonesia. Telegram has stated that they are ready to create a team of moderators with the ability of Bahasa Indonesia to accelerate the process of handling any terrorism relating content.

Find out more other recent trends on the Internet here!