Kurawa, Big Media, and the GoodBener who would be president

A battle royale is raging on Twitter between established online media houses including kompas.com, kumparan.com and professional buzzer @Kurawa and so far there have been threats of legal suits, applying the Draconian UU ITE and others.

The story unfolded on January 5 when Rudy Valinka, aka @kurawa, tweeted an accusation against Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan for media placement carrying the messages that he was GoodBener (rally good, a play on Gubener) to become President. Kurawa said it must have cost a few hundred million rupiahs, an unnecessary expense that could have been used to alleviate the plight of flood victims.

 

 

He then followed up with screen grabs of how several media outlets seem to have similar headlines and quotes.

Here’s one from Kumparan.com

 

 

This one from detik.com

 

And this one from Kompas.com

Then @Kurawa started saying he was disappointed by kompas.com for receiving a media placement from Anies, as he thought that Kompas.com was really objective.

@Kurawa also attacked other media, including Jawa Post. The editor replied to him on Twitter saying that their reporter had not ”complied with proper procedures” when uploading this story and they were therefore removing their story.

Kompas  fought back, saying that their journalist wrote the original story and others had copied their content. Kumparan also disagreed to allegations. From there, as with the way of social media, things all got heated up and murky because everyone started weighing in.

There was talk of lawsuits, the use of the UU ITE, going to the press council and other remedies. As usual, everyone had strong opinions.

What lessons can the rest of us get from this incident? Here’s Unspun’s list:

1. Kurawa may or may not have jumped to a premature conclusion that the publications all had been bought over by Anies to report the incident. The media, however,  still needs to look at themselves and how they report the news

2. What’s obvious is that there was a lot of cut-and-paste and story/photo sharing on the level of the reporters. How   This managed to evade the scrutiny of the editors is the real story here. And even if they had, surely a good editor would look at the competitors’ stories the next day and call in the reporters for the cut-and-paste stories?

3. The established media’s standards have been dropping for a long time and they are not functioning as a vigilant Forth Estate should. Issues and incidents arise and just as fast sink into obscurity and neglect. There is no follow-through of stories to their end. Hard questions are not asked.

4. The established media houses should realize that the only way they can recover from this tailspin of diminishing advertising revenues is to boost their credibility. It is only with good, hard reporting that they can stand any chance of staying alive, let alone return to profitability. The Guardian is a good example where good journalism pays.

In a time in Indonesia when all the three estates of the country – the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary – have shown themselves to be dysfunctional, it is more important now than ever for the Press – the Fourth Estate – to  provide the checks and balances that would ensure that Indonesia remain a vibrant democracy.

One can only hope that this incident forces everyone involved to do some introspection of their rights and obligations to Indonesian society, and then go ahead to discharge them.

 

 

 

The Rich and Patti Arguments over Rich Brian

Former US Ambassador who reinvented himself as the organizer of Supermentor,   Dino Patti Jallal, has a point in the ongoing feud with BEKRAF chief Triawan Munaf over Indonesian Rapper Rich Brian where children are concerned.

Children should not be exposed to obscenities. But the whole episode is not as clear cut as he makes it out to be.
The feud has its roots on 7 July when Jokowi met with Rich Brian, accompanied by Triawan Munaf, at the Istana, a huge endorsement and praise for the 19 year-old that has been making waves overseas.

Netizens loved the populist move and heaped praise on the President for being so cool.

Not everyone was happy though. On July 16, seemingly out of the blue, Dino sermonized on Twitter, saying that even though Brian may be a great performer he (Dino) as a father thinks that Brian would not make a good role model for Indonesian youth because Brians tweets often contained profanity, obscenity and disgusting elements and looked down on women.

That children should not be exposed to obscenity etc is easy to agree with but there were two problems with Dino’s argument.

The first is that its not cool to dump on Rich Brian after you tweeted back in April for help on getting him to be a speaker for your Supermentor in LA event.

Spying what she must have thought to be hypocrisy, Rich Brian’s sister Sonya Erika tweeted an eloquent screen cap of the invite. This prompted Triawan Munaf to virtually stab himself with a retweet that said only ”jlebs!


This set off a shitstorm in the Twittersphere as well as the media, to the point that Dino felt he had to clarify his change in attitude toward Rich Brian, not once but twice.
In one Tweet he said that he changed his mind about inviting Rich Brian after reading his tweets that contained obscenities.

In another Dino asked a rhetorical question:would any parent feel that a musician, even though well-known, should be free to use obscenities on social media because they would be emulated by children who idolized them? He then hectored his audience: “My answer as a parent is clear: NO. What’s your answer? Don’t lose perspective.”

A greater shitstorm ensued.

Which brings us to the second problem with Dino’s argument about exposing children to obscenities from their idols.

The Supermentor talks attract youths, young men and women to be sure. But not children. It’s a bit ingenuous in this day and age to think that these youths would be anything but nonchalant to Rich Brian’s obscenities on social media. if they are the type who like Rap and Hip Hop they would already be exposed to that kind of language. And guess what? Most of them have not turned into peverts, mysoginists or depraved layabouts.

Dino’s argument also begs the question of what the parents are doing if they allow their children to be on social media. Shouldn’t they be interacting with their children and teaching them about life rather than allow them to roam unsupervised on social media, which has places much more dangerous and obscene than Rich Brian’s feeds?
The curious are now wondering what is the motive behind Dino’s sudden burst against Rich Brian.

Should we take things at face value and suppose that Dino’s a model parent and passionate about parenting, so could just not stand the attention lavished on Rich Brian by the President of Indonesia?

Or should we speculate on what other factors there are that could motivate a once political insider, now locked out of the corridors of power, to resort to such undiplomatic Tweets?

Did Bukalapak’s Achmad Zaky really apologize?

For years we have been using Achmad Zaky interview tapes to demonstrate to media training clients what not to do when speaking to the Press or, in his case, to anybody really.

That’s because when he speaks before cameras the performance is usually cringeworthy for any PR professional. he usually comes across as cavalier, gruff and unpolished and saying things that aren’t always relevant and sometimes comes across as offensive.

Now, of course, Achmad Zaky has outdone himself.

Yesterday he took to Twitter to rail against the Government’s allocation to R&D:

Bad enough that he implicitly criticized the government for paying lip service to Industry 4.0 (if anyone knows what 4.0 is supposed to mean please let me) without providing the funding for it.

The biggest mistake in his Tweet, however, is when her seeming attacked the president personally in this sensitive runup to the president elections. “Hopefully, the next president would be able to increase (the funding).”

This Tweet caused a Tweetstorm from Jokowi’s supporters using the hashtag #uninstallbukalapak They feel particularly betrayed because Jokowi recently graced Bukalapak’s anniversary celebrations and appeared side-by-side with Zaky before the Press.

This is a favor, according to industry insiders, that Ahmad Zaky has been clamoring for. They say that Zaky has been envious his rival, Tokopedia’s William Tanuwijaya who seem to get much more attention from the media and the President than Zaky. So when Zaky was seen criticising the president and asking for his ouster with the “next president” reference, it hurt particularly bad.

When the criticisms started raining down on him Zaky tried to explain his way out of it with another Tweets:

It’s one of those non-apology apologies where he explained how his intent was misconstrued and misrepresented.

He then tried the maaf  word, but here again it was a non-apology apology. “Sorry to Jokowi’s supporters if there was anything amiss in my words has caused any misconceptions. I know Jokowi as someone who is good whom I consider like my own father (we’re both from Solo). Recently he visited us at our anniversary. There is certainly no ill will in my Tweet.

It is apologies like this that infuriate people. Explanations and justifications instead of an admission of wrong doing followed by an absence of proper contrition. It would not be surprising if it inflames rather than abates the fury of Jakowi’s supporters toward Zaky.

Indonesia has few unicorns as it is and Bukalapak provides a good challenge to Tokopedia and other other players. It would be a pity if Zaky’s lack of communications skills sinks his promising business.

He should get professional help, or at least listen to his professional PR advisors if they are any good, before he utters the next public statement or Tweets his thoughts. And while he’s at it he would do well to also whether his gruff communication style has rubbed off on the rest of Bukalapak, resulting in his minions treating their vendors and partners with the same perceived lack of care and respect.

 

 

 

Trending Topics Exposed

I remember a colleague coming up to me with pride in his voice, saying that we managed to get our event last night on the Trending Topic of Twitter.

I applauded his enthusiasm but then asked him what did it mean for our company and the event?

He couldn’t really explain, apart from saying that theoretically a lot of people would be aware of our event, and therefore our company, because the hashtag made it to the Trending Topic.

I then asked him how does one get on Trending Topic on Twitter. He wasn’t sure but mumbled something about x number of retweets, y of them by users with huge followings.

This incident underscores the difficulty a rational mind would have when it comes to the question of how to measure for success on social media.

I come from an old school tradition that says that whenever a client pays us to help them communicate, whether using media relations or through paid, earned, shared or owned media, the communications must yield a result: it should either increase awareness of a brand or corporation, shift people’s attitude toward it or change people’s behaviour. All else is meaningless.

But because social media is so relatively new, many people do not understand that it is a tool, a channel like any others. Taking advantage of this misunderstanding, charlatans posing as messiahs of a new age have introduced all sorts of fancy terms and measurements so that they can make marketeers feel comfortable in hiring them.

So now in social media we have success measured in terms of reach, impressions and engagement. How these metrics will help a company or brand remain mysterious. Output is mistaken for outtakes and outcomes.

So its refreshing to see articles like this below that strip the mystique of Trending Topics as a measure of success. What do you think?

Trending’ on Social Media Is Worthless

By Brian Feldman  @bafeldman

In the wake of last week’s Parkland high-school shooting, right-wing conspiracy theorists are pushing the ludicrous story that the teenage survivors speaking out against gun violence are “crisis actors” — dupes hired to pretend to be victims of tragedy.

Earlier this morning, the top trending video on YouTube was one implying that David Hogg, one of the students pushing for legislative action on gun control, is an actor. What does it mean, exactly, for something to be “trending”?

YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all make frequent use of the term, but none of them have a public or transparent definition — let alone a common one. When we sort through our feeds, “latest” has an obvious chronological sorting mechanism; even “popular” has a fairly clear and agreed-upon definition.

“Trending,” however, does not. It’s similar, but not the same as “popular”; generally speaking, it means “popular, in some relative, technically defined way.” That is, the “trending” sections of major platforms are, as of now, algorithmically determined, their contents selected by formulas developed internally at those companies and kept private.

Automated software determines what is trending, and it does so by examining the content according to a set collection of factors. YouTube, for instance, identifies trending videos by examining aspects like the view count, the rate of audience growth, and the age of the content.

A five-hour-old video is more likely to be trending than a five-year-old video; a video that goes from 100 views to 1 million is more likely to trend (yeah, it’s a verb now) than a video that goes from 250 million views to 251 million. Other factors might be considered as well.

A YouTube star with millions of subscribers and hundreds of uploads might be judged on a different acceleration rate than breaking-news footage uploaded by a guy with 19 subscribers.

Read more

So who’s behind #NoWitchHuntKarHut?

Update August 28: One of the buzzers involved in the campaign has admitted to being asked to Tweet, the client remains a mystery, and he has apologised for taking on the assignment here.  Unspun thinks it takes a big man to admit that they were wrong and to ask for forgiveness. Perhaps the Netizens should cut him some slack from now on.

Since my post some netizens have named the alleged digital agency and one of them have come up with a shitlist of all the buzzers involved. The company or alliance financing the campaign remains a mystery (at least to Unspun).

The original post:

The hashtag #NoWitchHuntKarHut (KarHut stands for Kebakaran Hutan or Forest Fire) began life on Twitter ostensibly on August 20, three days ago, by a buzzer. It sat there innocuously until this morning, when it seemingly caused a civil war among the Twitterati of Indonesia.

What was it about and why did it cause such a furore?

burning-13As far as can be pieced together the hashtag was a campaign initiated by a digital agency based in Jakarta. It gathered and paid some buzzers to use the hastag and get through the message that large corporations have been unfairly singled out when apportioning blame for forest fires. The unfairness resulted from the fact that smaller corporations were just as guilty for starting forest fires.

All sorts of buzzers were recruited, even those who normally would be more comfortable with lifestyle and consumer consumption than environment and public affairs. They were apparently told by the digital agency that the campaign was also an Indonesian reaction against Singapore that has been trying to assert pressure on Indonesia. Naively some of the buzzers swallowed that story, hook, line and sinker.

So when the buzzers got to work, a civil war, not unlike that in  Marvel comic that many of them are fond of,  broke out between them and the other buzzers who smelt something fishy about their fellow-buzzers suddenly taking up the cause of Big Palm Oil. Not being wall flowers, they spoke, or rather tweeted their minds, and soon there seemed to be a groundswell of sentiment against their fellow buzzers that had apparently sold out to land grubbing, environment-destroying, cynical large corporations.

The war  got so bad that one prominent buzzer was reported to have closed his account because of all the criticisms he was receiving.

Being curious about such things and having a suspicious mind Unspun thought that the usual large corporation suspects were behind the move so he checked with friends he had in their woodwork. They told him that they were flummoxed as anyone as to who was behind the campaign as they weren’t. These are friends, not the organisations, talking so Unspun tended to give them the benefit of the doubt.

So if it is not the usual suspects who could it be? Who was sophisticated enough to engineer a campaign ostensibly on behalf of the large corporations but in reality aimed to discredit them? And who else would have the kind of money to pay the digital agency to run the campaign and pay the buzzers? And why that peculiar hashtag #NoWitchHuntKarHut? It is a clumsily long hashtag. The use of the “no withch hunt” idiom suggests a Western mind or one brought up on western education (or an agency whose strategy is led by a Westerner).

One source, who corroborated on the identity of the agency, said he heard that an alliance of companies (that was not part of the usual suspects) was behind the funding of the campaign. But there was no more information. This deepens the mystery. Are there other players out there out there trying to discredit the established Big Boys? Who would gain from such a move, if true? Are we about to see a round of musical chairs in the Palm Oil industry? What is going on?

Fear and loathing over funds for Ibu Saeni

They say that no good deed goes unpunished.

 

The four young people who had been so moved by the plight of Serang Warteg owner Ibu Saeni try raising money for her over the internet — and was too successful at it — must be savouring the irony of this saying now.

Here’s how the story unfolded: On Wednesday, Serang city authorities cracked down on Warteg owners who had opened for business during fasting hours. One of the wartegs they raided, with reporters in tow,  belonged to 53-year old Ibu Saeni.

TV coverage of the raid showed several officers swooping on a hapless Ibu Saeni behind the counter and putting all the food that represented her entire day’s takings into plastic bags to be carried off to an unknown destination.

warung-makan-razia

Shocked and awed, Ibu Saeni broke down into tears.

Not helping things, the city officials had one of their own explaining unsympathetically to the TV cameras that they raided the wartegs because their owners had violated a city regulation not to sell food during fasting hours.

When the incident was aired and reported over TV and other news outlets there was great outpouring of sympathy for Ibu Saeni, and disdain for the officials who were perceived to be picking on the small businesspeople while leaving the more privileged show ones (the larger outlets and chains operating in shopping malls) untouched.

Amid all the chatter on social media arising out of this incident, four young people  – Alexander Thian, Jenny Jusuf, dan Yogi Natasukma and Dwika Putra,  (Disclosure: Dwika works in my workplace) decided to do something to help Ibu Saeni.

Since they  were heavy social media users and influencers in their own right, they naturally turned to the Net to raise money for Ibu Saeni. They had thought that they could raise Rp10 million, maybe Rp20 million, to help her after the trauma she had been through.

So they appealed for donations. Dwika had an account in BCA that he used for his personal expenses. So he emptied that account and used it as a vehicle for accepting donations to Ibu Saeni.

Then the unexpected happened. The response was so good that the four of them were first delighted then shocked as contribution after contribution came in. When the fund ballooned to Rp80 million they began to realise that the money raised after that mark would be better utilised for helping other victims of the raid. So they used social media to tell would-be donors that whatever was raised after that would be disbursed to other Warteg owners who had also been raided by city authorities.

Still the money kept pouring in and when the deadline for the last donations came they had raised a whopping Rp265 million!

They were touched. They were elated. They were amazed by the generosity of their fellow Indonesians. But they were also getting a bit scared an frustrated.

This was because while many Indonesians were praising them and appreciating their initiative to do something instead of merely tweeting or Facebooking about their frustrations, others have been outright mealy mouthed and nasty about their motives.

It would have been fine if these critics questioned whether it was the right thing to do to try to help a woman who had broken city regulations but the bottom line was much lower than that.

The intentions and integrity of the four were questioned. Hiding behind the safety and often the anonymity of their Twitter and other social media accounts these critics started to insinuate against the integrity and intentions of these four.

Some said that they were Christians out to denigrate Islam, Others that they were out to make a name for themselves on the sorrows of Ibu Saeni. Still others questioned whether they were trying to make a profit from the interest accrued from the interest on the Rp265 million before the disbursement,. And some questioned whether they wanted to insinuate themselves into politics.

It is ridiculous. It is petty and totally unwarranted, forcing one of them, Alexander Thian, to address the issue in his Facebook page.

The truth is sometimes very simple until people try to complicate it. My take on this incident is that you have four young people with their hearts in the right places. They wanted to help an old lady in distress and got off their bums to do something about it.

They made an appeal and the response was way beyond their expectations. So now they have to deal with how best to disburse all that money so that it is not only fair but seen to be fair. There is nothing more to it.

Instead of dumping on them these critics should shut up instead and look into themselves to find out where such snarky, petty and ill-willed sentiments come from. Appropriate topics to contemplate during the month of Ramadan, when the aim is for people to become better human beings.

 

Guerrillas and Telkom’s Netflix Blockade

My latest posting at the Maverick blog on Telkom’s decision to block Netflix.

 

The block and tackle surrounding Netflix

Netflix’s entry into Indonesia caused a bit of excitement because it offered the consumer more choice. But shortly after its entry into this market it came across a seemingly huge obstacle. State telco PT Telkomunikasi Indonesia announced on January 27 that it was blocking access to Netflix from its platforms IndiHome, Wifi.id. The Great Blockade was ostensibly carried out, said Telkomsel on the headline of its press release, “to protect customers.”

 

What is it that Indonesian customers need to be protected from? Telkom, again through its press release, listed violence and pornographic content as well as to prevent it from business operations that are “against the public interest, morals or disorder.” Horror! Violence and pornography? Have the decision makers at Telkom watched Indonesian TV or other internet sites recently?

Somewhere along the line Telkom also said that it was upholding the law with the blockade and protecting the “sovereignty of Indonesia from foreign players.”

Very strange reasoning here but while one may be a bit down with a possible rise of moral policing, degradation of the powers of reasoning, and jingoism at any opportunity, we here in Indonesia should also rejoice by the fact that there is competition as well [Read More].