JAKARTA: Hate speech was the most reported form of online crime in Indonesia in 2016, according to Indonesian police.
The national police cybercrime chief Himawan Bayu Aji told local media on Monday (Mar 27) that hate speech, especially concerning race and religion, featured most prominently in reports from netizens. Other cases included defamation, harassment, slander, provocation and threats against individuals or groups.
In 2015, there were as many as 671 reported cases related to hate speech. Without specifying figures, Himawan said that in 2016, the number was just as high. Out of the cases reported last year, police have handled 199 of them, he told the Jakarta Post.
Online fraud reportedly ranked second, with as many as 639 reports. Of that number, only 185 cases have been resolved.
Social media tools such as Facebook and WhatsApp have only exacerbated the spread of hate speech as well as fake news, said Himawan. He added, however, that differences in regulations between Indonesia and the United States have hindered the investigation process for a number of hate speech cases on these social media platforms.
“They won’t give us data because in the US, hate speech is (a common crime)," local news agency Antara quoted Himawan as saying.
Currently, a number of hate speech cases on Facebook have been resolved by what police call a “justice restore” system, where perpetrators are encouraged to become agents of change who can educate the community.
“If (the perpetrator) has shared his post, but it hasn’t gone viral yet, we perform a ‘justice restore’, we ask them to apologise for their post, delete its content and engage in familiarising the community (with the incident and action taken),” Himawan told local media.
"Law enforcement alone is not 100 per cent effective. We catch one suspect, three more appear. We catch three, 10 appear," he added.
Indonesia is one of the top five social media markets in the world, with more than 100 million social media users currently, according to a recent report by social media consultancy We Are Social and social media management platform Hootsuite.
Police have predicted that in five years' time, social media will be used by two-thirds of the population.
To tackle the rise in online crime, especially on social media, police formed several new units last month.
One of them is the directorate of cybercrime, a sub-division of the economic and special crimes division. The cybercrime unit reportedly has 47 personnel and one sub-division. Police have plans to increase this to three units and 120 personnel.
Officers in the cybercrime unit are trained in technology by cybercommunities in Indonesia and overseas.
Police have also formed a multimedia bureau tasked with educating the community and raising awareness about social media through the same medium.