BRTI says social networks now Indonesia’s Fifth Estate

With the traditional media, especially TV, congealing around business groups and becoming increasingly inane, it would seem that social networks, the so-called new media, is stepping to the fore to provide some checks and balances in Indonesian society.

This article from FutureGov.

(via Jon Russel at Asian Correspondent)

Social networks: Indonesia’s fifth estate?

By Robin Hicks | 22 July 2010

Social networks in Indonesia have become the country’s “fifth estate” – they are shaping democracy and policymaking. So says the commissioner of the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (BRTI), Heru Sutardi, who points to recent cases of where Indonesians have used social networks to amass public support and pressure governments.

At the end of last year, two leaders of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) were released from jail with the aid of a defence campaign led by a Facebook group (A Million Facebookers Support Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Riyanto) that has 1.4 million members.

In June 2009, a mother-of-two was jailed for defamation after an email complaint she made against a hospital appeared on Facebook. A Facebook group of 100,000 paid her legal bills and protested her innocence. She was later acquitted.

“Facebook in particular has become a common outlet for discussions on the state of democracy in Indonesia,” Sutadi told FutureGov. “Groups raising popular public policy issues have been growing in influence, drawing together the public and government in debate and into action.”

“It can now be said that social networks have become ‘the fifth estate’ in Indonesia, alongside the legislative, executive, judicative and the media,” he added.

Read more.

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