A Loss of Facebook?

In the Aftermath of a Massive Data Breach, Indonesia Ministry of Communications and Information Weighing Closing Facebook in Indonesia
Rumors are rife that Indonesia may take the official step of closing Facebook in Indonesia.


As reported in several national media, Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Information (Kominfo), Rudiantara, has sent two separate official warning letters to Facebook Indonesia in connection with the theft of data by Cambridge Analytica from at least 1 million Facebook Indonesia users under a cooperation agreement with the giant American social media and social networking company.

Facebook has since terminated its relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

Indonesia has an estimated 80 million people registered as social network users with 3 out of 4 Indonesian Internet users believed to be messaging on Facebook. Moreover, Indonesia is counted as the 3rd largest country worldwide in terms of Facebook users.

With the dispatch of a second warning letter from the Ministry to Facebook Indonesia, there is growing concern that Indonesia may be preparing to shut down Facebook nationwide. Legal tradition in Indonesia dictates that three warning letters sent before any business is shut down or its operating license suspended.

If Indonesia follows through with current threats to shut down Facebook, it would make the Republic the fourth country to block the social networking application - after the People’s Republic of China, Iran and North Korea.

With Indonesia’s presidential elections set to take place in 2019, some Indonesian officials view a shutdown of Facebook as a prudent step to prevent the insidious manipulation of the electorate through hoax news and phantom Facebook accounts.

Tribunenews.com quotes Rudiantara as saying that he would have little hesitation in closing down Facebook Indonesia if such a step proved necessary. Admitting that certain procedures and rules would have to be applied to affect an official shutdown, Rudiantara added: “If the Government decides to block (Facebook), then it will be blocked.”

The first warning letter was sent to Facebook on April 5, 2108, followed a few days later by a second formal warning. Both letters demanded an immediate and urgent explanation and the detailed written results of a formal audit by Facebook on the data breach committed by Cambridge Analytica.

Rudiantara complained on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, that the requested audit report has yet to be satisfactorily submitted to his Ministry. The Minister’s and the Government’s concerns regarding Facebook have been heightened further by subsequent reports of data-gathering via “personality quizzes” conducted on Facebook by “CubeYou” and “AgregateIQ.”

The Indonesian Ministry has urged Facebook to close all personality quiz applications operating on its system. Moreover, the Indonesian Government is demanding that Facebook comply with a 2016 Indonesian law on the protection of private data stored on electronic systems.

With an estimated 87 million Facebook users worldwide affected by the Cambridge Analytica data breach that facilitated Russian interference in elections in the USA and Europe, Indonesia may have had more of its impressionable social network users affected by the breach than any other nation in the world.
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