INDONESIA: When the Troll Takes a Toll

MICHELLE VARINATA WRITES – Given the fact that Indonesia is one of South Eastern Asia’s largest democracies, a core value in a democratic society is the freedom of speech. While social media provides a platform for people to vent their feelings and share their thoughts, it should not be treated as a place where everyone can say whatever they want. Trolling is  indeed a cruel act and the price that one pays for posting an opinion is another story.

Recently, 47-year-old divorcée Wisni Yetty was arrested in West Bandung over a private Facebook chat. According to the West Bandung District court, Wisni Yetty was sentenced for “distributing immoral content” by spreading false information about her ex-husband on a private Facebook chat with a friend. In a 2011 Facebook exchange, Wisni revealed to her friend that her ex-husband abused her. Two years later, Wisni filed a domestic abuse case against him and divorced her then-husband. A year later, Wisni’s ex-husband hacked into her Facebook account and filed a police report against her saying that she slandered him online.

According to The Jakarta Post, Wisni was sentenced to five months in jail and a fine of Rp 10 million. Wisni confessed to The Jakarta Post that she did not accept the verdict. Unfortunately, the court did not arrest Wisni’s ex-husband for violating a law, which stated that he had no right to access his ex-wife’s private account.

Unlike Wisni’s case, postgrad student Florence Sihombing ranted on Path that Yogyakarta, the country’s education and culture hub, was uncultured, poor and stupid. Sihoming’s rant stemmed from an incident i Yogyakarta where she attempted to fill up her motorcycle with gas. Sihombing couldn’t get gas for her motorcycle since the line for unsubsidized gas was restricted to cars. Her comments went viral, receiving a lot of attention, and therefore, was requested to apologize for criticizing the people and the city of Yogyakarta. According to Rappler, some groups filed a police report on Florence for “defaming” the city. The Yogyakarta District Court sentenced Florence to two months in jail and a fine of 10 million Rp.

While both women were sentenced for an extremely petty “crime,” the fact that they were jailed is a whole other story. If the country’s anti-defamation law meant to stop “trolls,” shouldn’t the government arrest the real trolls who put these women in jail?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.