Arjuna Pademme – Over the last few years the online media in Papua has grown rapidly. In concert with this, online “ghost” media sites have also emerged which appear to present journalistic reports but it is unclear who is responsible, who the journalists are or what there address is.
Not infrequently the information presented by these “ghost” media deceives the public with fake news. Not to mention that the names of the websites resemble those of genuine media website.
Several ghost media websites in Papua whose names mimic those of authentic sits include, among others, cenderawasih-pos.com (mimicking the Cendewasih Pos/ceposonline.com daily), kabarpapua.net and kabarpapua-online (mimicking KabarPapua.co) and tabluidjubi.com (mimiking tabloidjubi.com).
According to an investigation by Tirto.id and Tabloid Jubi, there are at least 18 ghost websites. This does not yet include media which uses Blogspot or Wordpress as the domain address.
An analysis by Tirto and Tabloid Jubi shows that as many as 17 ghost media are framed as “new reports” which create the impression that there are no human rights abuses in Papua, that groups supporting Papuan independence are “criminals” which often commit crimes, that the military and the police are doing a good job and so forth.
These ghost websites haunt and have begun to create unease among authentic journalists and media outlets which work in accordance with the press law and the journalist code of ethics.
Cenderawasih Pos chief editor Lucky Ireeuw says that his newspaper has of course been harmed by websites which mimic the name of his media outlet. Moreover the articles published by these ghost media are unclear and the information in the reports distort the facts, tending to be filled with propaganda which is not in accordance with journalistic standards.
“As if we own these websites, yet we don’t know anything about the information carried by them”, Ireeuw told Jubi on Tuesday December 4.
As a consequence of the information carried by these websites, the public anger becomes directed towards the authentic media outlets and damages their image.
The Cenderawasih Post’s editorial staff has received protests, public attention and complaints over reports by ghost media which people believe originate from the Post.
For example, following a cenderawasih-pos.com article titled “Senior KNPB [the pro-independence West Papua National Committee group] Member Alberth Wanimbo, Now KNPI [the ultra-nationalist Indonesian National Youth Committee] Chairperson”, the Post received protests from KNPI members because the article was written without interviewing Wanimbo.
Or an article titled “Once Again, #Papuansphoto Team Disguised as ‘Pornographers’ Continues to Operate” [the article claims that that photographic journalism group #Papuansphoto is disseminating pornography] posted by the cenderawasih-pos.com, which forced the ceposonline.com editorial staff to issue a clarification to several parties.
“We don’t just have a lot of trouble in the face of this public attention but also have to clarify incorrect statements from the public. We have already reported this verbally to the police”, he said.
Ireeuw, who is also the chairperson of the Jayapura Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), hopes that the police, which have a special cybercrimes unit, can track down and find these ghost media and prosecute them because the reports clearly violate the Electronic Transaction and Information Law (ITE) and become a source for hoaxes.
“These duplicate media don’t have clear addresses, company names (legal entities), who takes liability, editorial staff makeup and contact numbers. They don’t have any of this. With their sophisticated capacity and facilities, the police should be able to act quickly to deal with these kinds of things”, he said.
KabarPapua.co editor Cunding Levi meanwhile says that there are a number of ghost websites which use the name “Papua News” such as KabarPapua.net, KabarPapua.com and KabarPapua.co.id. His media outlet, he says, publishes articles that conform to journalistic standards, meet the journalistic code of ethics and promote the principle of independence.
“If indeed there are websites with names that mimic our name but which produce articles and content that is not in accordance with journalistic standards, clearly we feel harmed”, said Levi.
Despite this, he said that they cannot do very much. In principle, the editorial staff and KabarPapua.co management leaves it entirely up to the public (readers) to make their own assessment.
“We’re sure that readers can distinguish between what is true and ‘criminal’. This is why we still haven’t reported it yet to the police”, he said.
Nevertheless Levi hopes that there will be regulations enacted which can regulate the use of media names which mimic genuine media groups.
Papua regional police Special Crimes Detective Unit Sub-Directorate (Direskrimsus) head Police Commissioner Cahyo says that although several parties have made complaints about ghost media spreading hoaxes, so far no (genuine) mainstream media outlets or journalists have reported these fake media to police over damages caused.
“The reports that have come in are dominated by personal complains. Related to defamation, immorality, online scams, threats and extortion via electronic media”, said Cahyo.
The cybercrime team which operates under the Direskrimsus focuses more on law enforcement while efforts at combating fake news is carried out by the Anti-Hoax Task Force which is part of the regional police’s public relations department (Humas).
“In principle we deal with complaints or crimes which take place. Detection and other things are dealt with by the Humas. If the Humas finds something, usually the information is reported to us and we will investigate”, he said.
[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Media hoax, hantui jurnalis Papua”.]