The existance of Saracen in Indonesia had shown that our democracy progress tend to go to liberal way. Those condition can trigger democracy and political process in Indonesia will take the general principal of liberal democracy is the winner takes all and everyway is a legal way. Because of that fake news has become a real commodity, now that almost half the world’s population has access to the internet. In a political contestation, a single click of fake news targeting a certain candidate can sway the vote toward his or her rival.
Some political observer have analysis that fabricated news played a significant role in the simultaneous regional election, legislative election and presidential election in the coming years. In Indonesia, hoaxes and hate speech also paved the way for the defeat early this year of incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the most divisive election since the 2014 presidential race and its tend to rise and develop right now at the political contemporary in Indonesia.
Saracen syndicate had been spreaded hoaxes and inciting hatred for money . The group took orders from certain parties, including electoral candidates, to discredit political opponents for price tags ranging from Rp 75 million (US$5,770) to Rp 100 million per month.
The group owned and managed about 800,000 social media accounts used to broadcast hate speech. The group’s female administrator was arrested for posting anti-Chinese slurs and defamation of the President, the police, political parties and mass organizations. Her colleague admitted to editing pictures and uploading them on social media.
Taking advantage of most Indonesian internet users’ lack of digital literacy and the wide sensitivity toward sectarian issues, individuals or groups like Saracen easily drive voters to choose their leaders based on ethnicity or religion over achievements, therefore preventing the most capable candidates from taking office.
Democratic elections should let the best win. With the simultaneous regional elections occurring in June 2018 and the simultaneous legislative and presidential elections making its debut in 2019, Saracen’s business model could be booming if the country’s justice system failed to generate a deterrence.
Responding to Saracen syndicate, President Jokowi had instructed National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to identify not only other members of the network, but also those who backed them and their beneficiaries.
While the police bear the responsibility for disclosing all parties involved in the hatemongering business, the investigation should not only focus on the alleged spread of hoaxes targeting the President and themselves. To avoid any conflicts of interest, the police should enforce the law against the suspects, simply because they could hijack democracy and eventually endanger the unity of this diverse nation.
The complexicity phenomenon
According to, the National Police Commissioner, Bekto Suprapto had said that Police had been arresting Saracen’s group was answering on hoaxes news circulation related with hate speech and race-religious-tribe issues. Bekto believed the National Police can investigate and find the actor who was behind from these group. Saracen group could be a prove which could be explained various party have been using social media to spread hate speech.
Meanwhile, Setara Institute Chief, Hendardi has said hate speech content provider syndicate like Saracen has been designed by vested group which has an interest. Hate-speech turbulence had been increasing which painted social and politic dynamics lately was by design. Hendardi said Saracen group work is a serious crimes because its implication from hate-speech content is social unrest, conflict, discrimination, xenophobia and violence last but not least its could be made a genocide process.
I think, Saracen’s group phenomenon is a complexcity phenomenon and its could show widespread effects, dan its can show that Indonesia has been still had a big vulnerability over cyber crimes, and if those vulnerability couldn’t be handled, the future of Indonesia will be jeopardized, because the next economic process will be supporting by “viral market” through e-commerce which is needing cyber security in Indonesia.
Impact and Antisipate
Some of parties have been believed that others group except Saracen which always spreading hate-speech, race-tribe-religious issue politization, disturbing and breaking tolerance spirit in Indonesia, because of that the existance of cyber vandals group must be investigated thoroughly, eradicated and sanctioned punishment weighing heavily, because the firstly impact from Saracen existance is breaking the nation integritty. .
While charging the suspects under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law will complicate matters as the law itself is problematic, law enforcers can simply rely on the Criminal Code and demand the maximum sentence, considering the overarching social damage the group may have caused. Beyond Saracen, more people will develop sophisticated ways to spread hoaxes, but we should be able to stop them from monetizing their lies.
*) Wildan Nasution, Senior researcher at Strategic Assessment, Jakarta.