Creating Chaos and Consent: Cyber Troops and Organised Propaganda in Indonesia’s Cybersphere


About the Webinar

Political forces in Indonesia have long been rumoured to make use of cyber troops – including famous influencers, anonymous ‘buzzers’ and semi-automated ‘bots’ – to shape public opinion in their favour. Organised propaganda and public opinion manipulation online have become an integral part of Indonesia’s cybersphere, especially since the deeply divisive electoral campaigns in 2019. The mobilisation of cyber troops for political purposes – whether to pressure or attack political opponents, or to manufacture public consent on government policies – has become increasingly normalised. The organisation of cyber troop operations has professionalised to the extent that cyber troops have become a semi-institutionalised part of the political landscape, even as they continue to operate from the shadows of cyberspace. This normalisation of cyber troops – and the chaos they often create in political conversations on social media – has consequences not just for the quality of political debate within and beyond the digital public sphere, but for democratic accountability more broadly.

This webinar sheds light on the increasingly prominent role of cyber troops in a series of polarising political events and controversies in Indonesia: from the presidential elections in April 2019, to the revision of the law on the Corruption Eradication Commission in September 2019, the New Normal policy launched in May 2020, the passing of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation in October 2020, and other ongoing political debates. Besides discussing the evolution of cyber troop operations, including their organisation, and the strategies, tactics and languages used in the operations, the webinar will discuss how the normalisation of cyber troops affects political sentiments in Indonesia. It will also address the question of how to effectively counter this trend.

About the Speaker

Dr Yatun Sastramidjaja is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, and an Associate Fellow with the Media, Technology and Society programme at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. Her research investigates the ambivalent relationship between digital media and democracy processes in Southeast Asia. At the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute she is currently conducting research on cyber troops and public opinion manipulation in Indonesia, in comparison with other countries in Southeast Asia. Her previous research at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute focused on digitally-mediated youth movements in Southeast Asia. She has published widely on these and related topics. Her edited books on Digital Technologies and Democracy in Southeast Asia and Cyber Troops in Southeast Asia are forthcoming with ISEAS Publishing.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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Sep 21 2021


10:00 am - 11:00 am