Hoax messages mostly spread through online media."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has expressed concern over the spread of false news through various social media platforms and has vowed to tackle the menace by empowering its institutions, such as the State Cipher Institute (LSN).

To this end, the government supports the establishment of the Anti-Hoax Journalists Network (JAWAH) by the mainstream media that is believed to help counter the spread of fake news and other forms of false information.

The spread of hoax messages through the social media can create confusion and doubts about the veracity of the information, among others. Irresponsible parties can thus exploit this confusion to sow hatred and create disunity and hostility among the people.

According to Chief Political and Security Minister Wiranto, it is quite dangerous if advanced technology and the cyber world are misused for carrying out criminal activities. Terrorists, for instance, can use it to develop networks and spread information to their members on ways to assemble bombs.

Hence, early this year, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had ordered Wiranto to establish the National Cyber Agency to help overcome the threat of fake news that aims to spread slanderous messages and hatred through social media.

"This encourages us to establish an institution, such as the National Cyber Agency, to deter threats in the cyber world. Due to the less favorable financial condition of the state, we are trying to develop and empower the existing institutions, notably the LSN," Wiranto noted at a meeting of postgraduate students in Jakarta as quoted by Liputan6.com on Mar 16.

In its efforts to support the war against hoax messages, the Indonesian government is currently also hosting an event to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on May 1 to 4 in Jakarta.

As part of this momentum, the Indonesian journalists of the mainstream media have set up the Anti-Hoax Journalist Network (JAWAH) to fight the spread of hoax messages. Communications and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara has lauded the establishment of the JAWAH.

"I praise all efforts made by different communities and regional governments to address the circulation of hoax messages. Now, the mainstream media has set up the JAWAH network," the communication and information technology minister remarked after attending the declaration of the establishment of JAWAH at the Vice Presidential Office on Friday last week (Apr 28).

The declaration of the JAWAH network, which was initiated by the Indonesian Journalists Association, was also attended by Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla (JK).

Rudiantara said the involvement of the mainstream media is very effective in fighting hoax, as it has qualified human resources to verify facts, both through journalists on the field and editors in editorial rooms.

"Hoax messages mostly spread through online media. Print media has sufficient time to conduct (a detailed analysis) or cover both sides," Rudiantara pointed out.

Thus, the mainstream media has a bigger responsibility to provide facts in its online dispatches. Based on the verification of the Press Council, of the 40 thousand media organizations, some 30 are online media. This is a huge responsibility," Rudiantara remarked. Hence, the campaign against the spread of false news should continue to be carried out.

Indonesian Press Council Chief Yosef Adi Prasetyo stated that the campaign against hoax in Indonesia is not only the responsibility of the reporters or media practitioner but also the people, through their involvement in public information.

" No matter whether you are a bureaucrat, politician, professional, or even a housewife, fake news attacks everyone. We should fight against it efficiently," Yosef noted.

Fake news or hoax is not just seen in Indonesia but also in other countries such as European countries and United States.

A survey conducted by Secretary of the Indonesian Journalists Associations Honorary Board Wina Armada Sukardi revealed that of all false news circulating in the community, those related to health issues are the most dominant.

"False news (hoax) on health is prevalently floated around, and such hoax news tends to be shared by their readers due to a lack of information on the issue," he stated during the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta, Monday.

Some 27 percent out of a thousand hoax information evaluated for a year, starting from February 2016, indicated that the false news were related to health.

Of all the circulated fake news, political issues ranked second, at 22 percent; followed by entertainment-related news, at 15 percent; and the rest were related to business competitions and other miscellaneous issues.

The low level of literacy has led several people to believe in hoax or fake news, Chief Editor of Trans Media Titin Rosmasari, a speaker at the World Press Freedom Day event, stated on Monday.

"Todays generation prefers to use their gadgets rather than reading books," she stated at a seminar held at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) in Jakarta ahead of International Press Freedom Day commemorated annually on May 3.

She said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCOs) records in 2012 estimated that Indonesias literacy level had reached merely 0.001, indicating that out of every thousand people, only one individual had actively read books.

According to Director General of Culture of the Ministry of Education and Culture Hilmar Farid said early this year many were still unable to differentiate between fake and real news.

Even professors, doctors and academicians were likely to believe the information available on the social media, Farid added.

"The social media has an extraordinary influence. A false piece of information, which is given a picture and a title, can spread quickly (after it is uploaded)," the director general said.

Usually, those who believe in hoax materials belong to the transitional generation. There are many professors and doctors who believe in such false news (disseminated through social media), a research conducted by Farid with the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo) in 2015, found out.

The victims of hoax and misleading short message services (SMSs) are mostly those who have high intelligence, the research revealed.

This generation was born before the onset of (information) technology and were exposed to it only at an adult age, Farid said while explaining the transitional generation.

"Adversely, children who were born after the advent of the (information) technology do not believe in hoaxes easily. These children are more selective, because they are able to trace the sources of the news with the help of technology," Farid affirmed.

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2017