Google agrees to censor for Jakarta

Indonesia and Google have signed an agreement to step up monitoring of content on YouTube after Jakarta complained about the misuse of social media to spread terrorism, sectarian violence and pornography.

Indonesia is testing a “trusted flagger system” to filter content on the video-sharing website with its official introduction expected next year, Rudiantara, Communications and Information Technology minister, told the media. The flagging system would be limited to YouTube and not apply to Google searches, he said.

“We want to ensure content doesn’t promote violence or incites divisions in the country,” Rudiantara said after talks with Google bosses.

Ann Lavin, Google’s Asean director for public policy and government affairs, told Reuters the firm would implement its “trusted flagger” programme in Indonesia over the next two or three months.

Twitter’s regional representatives made a similar deal in January in the week.

Flagger systems were already in place in other nations, including the US and in Europe, but Indonesia would be the first Asean country to use it, Rudiantara said.

The authorities worry about the use of social media as a platform for spreading terror, racial hatred, pornography and child abuse.

“Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google and YouTube are committed to being part of the solution,” Kent Walker of Google told the Financial Times.

“We are working with government, law enforcement and civil society groups to tackle the problem of violent extremism online. There should be no place for terrorist content on our services.”

The programme gives a group of NGOs and other trusted bodies the ability to raise an alarm at hate speech and other questionable use of YouTube.

Last month, the government threatened to shut down the encrypted messaging app Telegram, used by several million citizens in the sprawling archipelago, if it did not develop procedures to block unlawful content. The government promised to restore some of Telegram’s web-based services this week after the founder Pavel Durov promised to address Jakarta’s fears.

Facebook, which has more than 88 million Indonesians among its users, has also agreed to work with the authorities to monitor content, the Communications Ministry said. Facebook said it would hire a team to counter the spread of hoaxes and negative content.

Indonesia’s military fears the growing influence of Islamic State. Picture credit: Wikimedia