This week, the Indonesian government intensified their efforts to censor “negative” content on the internet by forcing ISPs (internet service providers) to enable content filters on search engines by default, which can’t be switched off. The new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining that the video streaming site’s restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.
Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. If your ISP has done so, then the settings menu on your Youtube account should show “restricted mode” switched on by the network administrator while the feature is greyed out so you can’t switch it off.
i haven't seen too much news and discussion going on twitter on Indonesia Youtube restricted mode wave. Basically, starting yesterday A LOT of Indonesian based Youtube channels are starting to got their video inaccessible from a bunch of Indonesia ISP. pic.twitter.com/w2zPsmA6dE
— izzzy (@vngnc) August 9, 2018
Youtube already had strict regulations against overtly pornographic content, so the site’s restricted mode seems to be especially overzealous, with netizens reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.
Government turned on restricted mode for youtube (even for kpop videos) because they think it's not 'family friendly'. Whats wrong with this country
— LIGHT in stage of denial (@nandajjn) August 8, 2018
Oh jd begini sekarang kalo akses YouTube pakai Indosat (+provider lain)? Tombol "restricted mode"nya permanen? Sampai buka kanal Taylor Swift (FFS, TAYLOR! What kind of restricted contents she produce?!) ga bisa. Menkominfo…
— Indrianisa Manurung (@indrianisa) August 8, 2018
Bahkan channel YouTube Emi Wong yg bermanfaat VIDEONYA KENA RESTRICTED MODE. Ini bukan channel bokep :((((((((((( pic.twitter.com/R4AZvIStGm
— Lia (@Liaeffendi_) August 9, 2018
While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the government.
Hai Kak, untuk notifikasi Restricted Mode ketika akses Youtube tersebut merupakan ketentuan dari Pemerintah dalam rangka mencegah masyarakat mengakses konten Pornografi. Thanks ^jani
— Indosat Ooredoo Care (@IndosatCare) August 8, 2018
Hi, Youtube’s restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.
Telkomsel, whose customers have also complained about their Youtube being restricted, say that they can still switch it off by clearing the Youtube cache on their device and then logging in to the video streaming site/app.
 Hai, Mas Sakti. Maaf atas ketidaknyamanannya. Terkait keluhan akses youtube selalu tampil mode terbatas, silakan ikuti langkah berikut :
1. Clear cache aplikasi Youtube terlebih dahulu,
2. Login terlebih dahulu di aplikasi Youtube
— Telkomsel (@Telkomsel) August 8, 2018
If you’re among those whose enjoyment of Taylor Swift on Youtube is being limited, we can safely say, for now, previously tried-and-tested workarounds to the government’s internet censorship still apply.
If there’s one battle that’s impossible to win, it’s the battle to block every single instance of internet porn. But that is the battle the Indonesian government has been engaged in ever since internet pornography was officially made illegal in 2008. Since then, many major pornographic websites have been blocked while sites like Reddit and Tumblr, which contain a small portion of pornography, have also become unnecessary casualties.
This year, the government launched a US$14 million automatic porn censorship system that they say will be able to block 30 million websites containing negative content, which also include gambling, extremism and sexual education. The tech was seen by many as a waste of money as there always have been, and, theoretically, there always will be, workarounds to any internet censorship.