Social-media campaigns: a shift of political communication styles in Indonesia

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Social Media
Clear-cut social-media campaigning regulations are pivotal to anticipating the 2024 general elections. Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO

IO – Two years before the 2024 simultaneous general elections, election organizers must begin preparing campaigning rules, particularly those covering non-conventional media. This was the main theme of a discussion conducted by The Indonesian Institute (TII), the Elections and Democracy Association (Perludem) and the Community Studies and Advocacy Institute (Elsam). 

TII political researcher Ahmad Hidayah presented the results of a TII Indonesia Report, titled “Political Communication of Potential Presidential Candidates Through Social Media Platforms in 2021.” The findings showed the seven potential presidential candidates observed had exploited social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. 

Perludem’s researcher Maharddhika claimed that there had been a shift in the political communication style in Indonesia, as a result of social media. At the election stage, presidential candidates could introduce themselves and the parties that support them, to become more familiar with the public. “Communication that used to be one-way has now become two-way. One of the platforms used to introduce themselves to voters is social media,” he explained, in a release Monday (2/21/2022) from an Instagram discussion themed “Digital Campaign Policy Settings for the 2024 Simultaneous Election”. 

Elsam’s researcher Alia Yofra Karuninan observed that the COVID-19 pandemic had stimulated an increase in social media use, even by politicians. In the 2020 Regional Head Election (Pilkada) held amid the pandemic, election organizers also encouraged election participants to campaign through social media before the election stage, said Alia. 

Unfortunately, there have been no clear-cut rules for campaigning on social media. Ahmad Hidayah said social media is like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it facilitates communication by politicians, so they may share their political ideas. But on the other hand, it is also the most effective tool for black campaigns, hate speech and hoaxes. 

For example, in the 2020 Pilkada, one candidate for Deputy Mayor of South Tangerang, Rahayu Saraswati, became the prey of a black campaign on social media. “Not to mention the hoaxes widely scattered on social media,” explained Ahmad. 

Sharing the same sentiment, Maharddika opined that existing regulations have not been effective in resolving social-media campaigning issues. “The main priority before forming a concrete legal framework is to identify problems one by one, by proportionally classifying them,” explained Maharddika. 

Alia Yofra Karunian also stated that to counteract hoaxes or respond to fake news, election organizers need to form a task force. Collaboration from many parties is also the key to creating a democratic election. (des)