FPI confirms 24-hour boycott of Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media networks on Christmas

Members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which advocates for the implementation of sharia law throughout Indonesia, during a march in January 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
Members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which advocates for the implementation of sharia law throughout Indonesia, during a march in January 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Indonesian Islamist hardliners the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) continue to have us scratching our heads, announcing a blanket boycott of social media to protest their Facebook account being blocked on Tuesday, a move that would seemingly hurt no one but themselves.

Earlier this week, the FPI said that they planned to carry out a protest at Facebook’s office in Indonesia in response to the account blocking. Then yesterday, FPI Jakarta Secretary General Novel Bamukmin (of “Fitsa Hats” fame) confirmed that the group and their supporters would be unplugging from social media on Christmas day as a form of protest.

“We will boycott Facebook, WhatsApp, and others for 24 hours on Dec. 25,” he said, as quoted by Tirto.

You’ll forgive us if we don’t get the rationale behind this move. It’s not like social media platforms like Facebook, with their billions of users, are going to feel the slightest pinch from FPI’s boycott, whereas the hardline group needs social media to promote their values and activities.

As for the actual physical protest against Facebook, Novel said it will happen after Christmas or some time in the new year, and that they will protest at the offices of the IT Ministry as well.

So why is Facebook the target of FPI’s wrath? Well, according to this poster that circulated online earlier this week, one of the main reasons is that Facebook has banned multiple pages and groups related to FPI, with the screen at the top (opposite a photo of fugitive FPI leader Rizieq Shihab) depicting a message from the social media platform indicating that an account has been deactivated for violating the site’s terms of service, which include content that promotes violence or discrimination.

Curiously, the poster goes on to ask Muslims to leave Facebook altogether for an alternative social media network that is “friendly” for all religions (which they are calling on Muslim researchers and scientists to create), which begs the question: Why boycott Facebook and other existing social media platforms for only 24 hours?

To this point, neither Facebook, WhatsApp, nor any of the social media platforms being threatened with the boycott have made any public comment on the situation.

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: RELIGION, TECH

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