Indonesia needs to settle down after it tried to get rid of Instagram over one gay account.
According to Watermark Online, The Ministry of Communications announced on February 14 that an account called Alpatuni was deleted over pornographic content. The ministry says that the account violated the law on information and electronic transitions.
According to the South China Morning Post, the ministry allegedly also threatened to block Instagram in the country if the account wasn’t removed. Threatening to block Western social media apps like Facebook is an act Indonesia makes frequently.
According to the ministry, Instagram “fulfilled” its request of delete the account after being sent a warning letter. Yet, Instagram says it never removed the account. Instead, it’s more likely that the user deleted it or changed the username. This is backed by the fact that the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the same name have also disappeared.
But what was so wrong with Alpatuni? Was it really pornographic? Since the account was deleted, we can’t know for sure. But, it appears to have been made by an artist who created comic strips to depict gay life in Indonesia. While, as far as we can see, there wasn’t any pornography, the account did depict mild sexual content like making out and using gay dating apps.
But for Indonesia, where sexuality in any form is rarely depicted openly and also where homosexuality is a taboo, that is enough for scrutiny of the account. In fact, it was several Indonesian users who reported the account to the ministry. Also, some Indonesian netizens (internet users) congratulated the ministry online. On Twitter, Fahmi Alfansi Pane, a policy analyst at the Indonesian parliament, thanked officials for “acting decisively” to protect public morality.
That said, not everyone was happy with this turn of events. Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono criticized the government.
“That account describes mostly the problems of gay individuals in Indonesia. It’s no secret that many LGBT individuals are arrested, their houses raided, some are sentenced to prison terms,” he said. “The Indonesian government does not help them in demanding the removal of that account.”