Indonesia Warns to Block WhatsApp Over Explicit Content

Mia Hanson November 06, 2017
Indonesia Warns to Block WhatsApp Over Explicit Content

The Indonesian government has warned Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp Messenger on Monday of getting blocked in the country if it does not immediately remove indecent graphics interchange format (GIF) images from its service within 48 hours.

The Ministry of Communication and Informatics (MCIT) said that it has taken quick actions of blocking access to six domain name service (DNS) providers belonging to Tenor, the third-party source of the improper GIFs to the messenger app.

MCIT’s director general Semuel Pangerapan stated that they have given WhatsApp a two-day deadline of removing the obscene contents from its service or it will be blocked in the country.

A spokesperson of WhatsApp has explained that the explicit GIF images were made by a third-party app. Nonetheless, the mobile messenger is still accountable for the incident since the service was connected and was on its platform. It has to perform screening and follow the rules in Indonesia as well.


The representative added that they were unable to monitor GIFs on WhatsApp given that the content is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that only users and the person they are communicating with can read the messages.

The Indonesian Consumers Foundation’s (YKLI) director Tulus Abadi has also urged the ministry to stop the spread of inappropriate content through emoticons as children and teenagers may easily see it, which could be harmful to their development.

MCIT are already in talks with WhatsApp’s owner Facebook as well as GIF maker Giphy to resolve the matter. The ministry has requested them to sort out certain keywords and controversial features for Indonesia since users can simply find the indecent contents by just typing specific keywords.

Considering WhatsApp’s situation, it may be best that the messenger cooperate with the Indonesian government, seeing that it briefly cut off access of another messaging app, Telegram, in the past for supposedly providing radical and terrorism-related content.

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Mia Hanson


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