Indonesia lifts social media curbs targeting hoaxes during unrest

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Indonesia on Saturday lifted temporary social media restrictions that were imposed to stop online hoaxes during an eruption of violence around the announcement of official election results.

Communications Ministry official Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan told a news conference that social media had returned to normal.

The restrictions came into force on Wednesday after rioting broke out in the Indonesian capital following protests against the victory of President Joko Widodo in last month’s election.

Eight people were killed and more than 900 hurt when rallies by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto descended into violence with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets as well as using water canon to quell unrest.

Retired general Prabowo has alleged the election was rigged.

The election supervisory agency has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.

Authorities have blamed a rise in online hoaxes, some calling for violent post-election attacks, for inflaming tensions and brought in social media restrictions in order to prevent “provocations.”

The move imposed limits on the ability to upload videos or photos on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and its platforms Instagram and Whatsapp.

The curbs had been criticized by opposition figures as being authoritarian.

Pangerapan said the government planned to tighten existing regulations to combat online hoaxes.

“We will make it an obligation for all social media platforms to actively remove hoaxes and fake news,” he said.

At the same news conference, police said that a video that has gone viral showing police beating a man in Jakarta during the unrest was genuine, but said claims that he had died were false and said he had been arrested for helping instigate riots.

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