Jakarta, Indonesia - As Indonesia approaches its 2024 General Election, a significant challenge facing the nation's journalists is the proliferation of hoaxes in the digital space. The Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo) has reported a concerning rise in false news, with 1,944 hoaxes detected between 2022 and September 2023.
According to Antara News Agency, social media platforms were rife with 1,698 hoaxes in 2022 alone. The breakdown of these hoaxes across platforms is revealing: Facebook accounted for 36.9 percent, a platform referred to as X (formerly known as Twitter) comprised 24.5 percent, WhatsApp saw 13.6 percent, TikTok had nine percent, and other social media platforms made up 16 percent.
This trend highlights a critical need for journalists to adhere to their professional standards and ethics, particularly the Code of Ethics of Indonesian Journalists. The role of the press is not just to report but also to safeguard against the spread of misinformation, which can have profound impacts on society and democracy.
The drive for increased viewership and viral content often leads journalists into the trap of inadvertently promoting hoaxes, negatively affecting public perception and trust. These false narratives, propagated by irresponsible actors, are not just misleading but can actively damage democracy by manipulating digital content to create chaos and confusion.
Hoaxes also pose a threat to societal harmony and the character of journalism itself. They undermine public trust, compromise objectivity, and degrade the quality of news reporting. The viral nature of such misinformation can foster long-term conflicts within communities, polarize society, and weaken national unity.
The economic repercussions of widespread hoaxes are also significant. Viral false information can lead to domestic conflicts, erode business confidence, and slow down the economy within months, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of misinformation on national life.
Journalists in Indonesia face the crucial task of combating digital misinformation, upholding their ethical standards, and playing a proactive role in maintaining the integrity of information in the public sphere.