Online Hoaxes, Existential Threat, and Internet Shutdown: A Case Study of Securitization Dynamics in Indonesia

Antony Lee
| Abstract views: 2633 | views: 1243


As one of the countries in the world with the highest growth of internet users, Indonesia is experiencing a rapid growth in social media usage. Some use social media for networking but some others use it to spread hoaxes, fake information, or disinformation. During presidential election in Indonesia in the period from 2017 to 2019, hoaxes and disinformation were widely circulated through social media and instant messaging. This phenomenon has triggered heated public debates on the nexus between digital spaces and security, which include how the online disinformation has threatened Indonesian security. For example, hoaxes were represented in the public sphere as an existential threat to Indonesian unity. Immediate question regarding this phenomenon is:why are online hoaxes and fake information represented in public spheres as a security threat? This paper argues that as a response toward the increase of online hoaxes, there were securitizing moves made by political elites and special agencies in Indonesia before and in the aftermath of the 2019 Indonesian presidential election. Employing discourse analysis of selected relevant news articles around the period of 2017-2019, this paper analyses the dynamic of the securitization of online hoaxes in Indonesia. Grounded within Securitization Theory, this paper analyses; the facilitating condition; the triumvirates of securitizations, which are the securitizing actors, the threats posed by hoaxes, and the audiences; as well as extraordinary measures executed to handle the threats; internet throttling and internet shutdown when necessary.



Digitalization; Throttling, Hoax; Internet; Securitization Theory; Indonesia

Full Text:



Anderson, B. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.

Azali, K. 2017. “Fake News and Increased Persecution in Indonesiaâ€. In Perspective, issue 2017, No. 61. Available in (Accessed Januari 31, 2020).

APPJI. 2018. Hasil Survei Penetrasi dan Perilaku Pengguna Internet Indonesia 2018 [the 2018 Survey of Internet Penetration and Internet Users in Indonesia]. Available in (Accessed February 15, 2020).

Bute, S. 2014. “The Role of Social Media in Mobilizing People for Riots and Revolutions: Four Case Studies in Indiaâ€. In Patrut, Bogdan and Patrut, Monica (Eds), Social Media in Politics: Case Studies on the Political Power of Social Media. New York: Springer.

Buzan, B. Waever, O. and De-Wilde, J. 1998. Security: A New Framework of Analysis. Boulder CO: Lynne Rienner.

Dolinec, V. 2010. The Role of Mass Media in the Securitization Process of International Terrorism. Politické vedy, 13(2), 8-32.

Elson, R. 2001. Suharto: A Political Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fetzer, J. 2004. “Disinformation: The Use of False Informationâ€. In Minds and Machines Vol 14, p. 231–240.

Gazali, E. 2014. “Learning by Clicking: An Experiment with Social Media Democracy in Indonesiaâ€. In the International Communication Gazette Vol. 76 (4-5): pp 425-439.

Gunawan, B. and Ratmono, B. 2018. Kebohongan di Dunia Maya: Memahami Teori dan Praktik-praktiknya di Indonesia [Lies in Cyberspace: Understanding the Theory and Its Practices in Indonesia]. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia.

Gupta, R and Brooks, H. 2013. Using Social Media for Global Security. Indiana: John Wiley&Sons, Inc.

Huysmans, J. 2000. "The European Union and the Securitization of Migration". JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 751-777.

Huysmans, J. 2006. The Politics of Insecurity: Fear, Migration, and Asylum in the EU. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ireton, C. and Posetti J. 2018. Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Available in (Accessed February 12, 2020).

Kulesza, J. 2014. “Social Media Censorship vs State Responsibility for Human Rights Violationsâ€. In Patrut, Bogdan and Patrut, Monica (Eds), Social Media in Politics: Case Studies on the Political Power of Social Media. New York: Springer.

Kurniawan, Y. 2018. The politics of securitization in democratic Indonesia. Springer International Publishing.

Lee, A. 2017. “Guarding the Elections Onlineâ€: New Practices, Trust, and Empowerment of Citizens Identities. Journal of Indonesian Social Sciences and Humanities, 8(1), 11-28.

Lee, A. 2018. “Forced Migrants, Media, and Securitization: Making Sense of the Changing Representations of Transit Asylum Seekers in Indonesian Print Mediaâ€. Journal of ASEAN Studies, 5(2), pp.75-101.

Lee, A. 2016. “Pasang Surut Partisipati Politik di Dunia Maya [The Tides of Political Engagement on Cyber Spaces]â€. In Tinjauan Kompas: Menatap Indonesia 2016 [Kompas Outlook: Indonesias Outlook 2016]. Jakarta: Penerbit Buku Kompas

Lim, M. 2017. Freedom to Hate: Social Media, Algorithmic Enclaves, and the Rise of Tribal Nationalism in Indonesia. Critical Asian Studies, 49(3), 411-427.

Lim, M. 2013. “Many Clicks but Little Sticks: Social Media Activism in Indonesiaâ€. In Journal of Contemporary Asia Vol. 43, No. 4: pp 636-657.

Mastel. 2019. Hasil Survei Wabah Hoax Nasional 2019 [The Survei Result of National Hoax Plague 2019]. Available in (Accessed in February 22, 2020).

Nash, V. 2013. “Analyzing Freedom of Expression Online: Theoretical, Empirical, and Normative Contributionsâ€. In Dutton, William H (Ed). The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Oxford; Oxford University Press.

Neo, R. 2019. “The securitisation of fake news in Singaporeâ€. In International Politics.

Nugroho A. 2019. “Comparative Study of Hoax Handling Policies in Indonesia and Singaporeâ€. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Administration Science (ICAS 2019).

Priyono, A et al. 2014. Media Sosial Alat Gerakan Sipil [Social Media, Civil Movement’s Tool]. Jakarta: Public Virtue Institute.

Purdey, J. 2006. Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, 1996-1999. Singapore: Singapore University Press.

Ringmar, E. 2018. What are public moods?. In European Journal of Social Theory, 21(4), pp.453-469.

Salma. A. 2019. Deï¬ning Digital Literacy in the Age of Computational Propaganda and Hate Spin Politics. In The 10th IGSSCI (International Graduate Students and Scholars’ Conference in Indonesia) News Media and the Changing Social Landscape of Cintemporary Societies: How are New Media Reshaping the Whole Aspects of Life of Contemporary Societies?, KnE Social Sciences, pages 323–338. DOI 10.18502/kss.v3i20.4945

Setiawan, A. 2019. “Analisis Yuridis terhadap Berita Bohong (Hoax) yang Beredar di Media Sosial Berdasar Hukum Positif†[Juridical Analysis Fake News (Hoax) in Social Media Based on Positive Law]â€. In Dinamika, Vol 25, No 6, pp. 27-34. Available in

Sheehan, M. 2005. International Security: An Analytical Survey. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Surbakti, R. 2017. “Pemilu Terbesar di Dunia [The Biggest Election in the World]. In Kompas, May 3, p.6.

Suriadi, A. 2018. “The Language of Hoax: Explosive Growth of Fake News in the Biggest Muslim Societyâ€. Proceedings of the 2nd Internasional Conference on Culture and Language in Southeast Asia (ICCLAS 2018). Available in (Accessed January 31, 2020).

Tapsell, R. 2017. Media Power in Indonesia: Oligarchs, Citizens and The Digital Revolution. London: Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd.

The Economist Intelligence Unit. 2019. Democracy Index 2019. Available in (Accessed February 24, 2020).

Ulum, M. 2017. “Cyber Culture and Cyber Security Policy of Indonesia: Combining Cyber Security Civic Discourse, Tenets, and Copenhagen’s Securitization Theory Analysis. In Proceeding the 1st International Conference on Social Sciences University of Muhammadiyah Jakarta, Indonesia, 1–2 November 2017

Utami, P. 2018. “Hoax in Modern Politics: The Meaning of Hoax in Indonesian Politics and Democracyâ€. In Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik, Vol 22, Issue 2, p. 85-97

Waever, O. 1995. “Securitization and Desecuritizationâ€. In Lipschutz, Ronnie D. (Ed). On Security. New York: Columbia University Press

Yanti, M. and Yusnaini. 2018. “The Narration of Digital Literacy Movement in Indonesiaâ€. In Informasi: Kajian Ilmu Komunikasi, Vol. 48, No 2, p 243-255. doi:


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 1976. Available in

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1948. Available in

Undang-Undang Nomor 11 Tahun 2008 tentang Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik [Electronic Information and Transaction Law] . Available in (Accessed January 20, 2020)

Undang-Undang Nomor 19 Tahun 2016 tentang Perubahan Kedua Atas Undang-Undang Nomor 11 Tahun 2008 tentang Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik [Electronic Information and Transaction Law]. Available in (Accessed January 20, 2020)

News Reports

Kompas Newspaper: February 3, 2019, p.2; January 4, 2019, p.1&15; March 7, 2018, p.3; October 18, 2018, p.3; July 24, 2018, p.4; August 23, 2019, p.8; August 26, 2019, p.D; February 22, 2019; January 3, 2019; October 14, 2017; April 18, 2019. July 31, 2016; May 23, 2019; October 23, 2019; October 29, 2019. October 20, 2018; August 24, 2017. March 20, 2019.

Press Releases, and Website

Siaran Pers [Press Release] No. 51/HM/KOMINFO/2019: 771 Hoaks Berhasil Diidentifikasi Kemkominfo Sejak Agustus 2018 Hingga Februari 2019 [771 Hoaxes Identified by Kemkominfo since August 2018 until February 2019]. 13/3/2019. Available in (Accessed February 4, 2020).

Siaran Pers [Press Release] No.106/HM/KOMINFO/05/2019: Pembatasan Sebagian Fitur Platform Media Sosial dan Pesan Instan [Partial Throttling of Social Media and Instant Messaging Features]., 22/5/2019. Available in (Accessed February 5, 2020).

Siaran Pers [Press Release] No. 155/HM/KOMINFO/08/2019: Pemblokiran Layanan Data di Papua dan Papua Barat [Data Services Blocking in Papua and West Papua]. 21/8/2019. Available in (Accessed February 5, 2020).

Siaran Pers [Press Release]: President Jokowi Absent in the Preliminary Session of the Trial on Internet Shutdown Lawsuit., 22/01/2020. Available in (Accessed 26 February, 2020).

“Hoaxâ€. Available in (Accessed Februaty 3, 2020).

“Hoaks dan Ujaran Kebencian Jadi Teror Demokrasi Indonesia [Hoaxes and Hate Speeches Become Terror to Indonesian Democracy]., 28/2/2019. Available in (Accessed February 8, 2020).

“Internet Usage in Asiaâ€, 2019. Available in (Accessed January 28, 2020).

Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Indonesian Social Sciences and Humanities
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  • There are currently no refbacks.