IT Ministry blocks negative content on Tik Tok, Smule live chat apps for portrayal of ‘vulgar’ clothes, tattoos

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Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) extended its policing of the country’s internet to popular live chat apps over the last year, implementing filters for certain “negative content” ranging from the depictions of pornography to more innocuous items like tattoos.

In a press release issued yesterday, Kominfo announced that it had blocked 2,334 sources of negative content throughout 2018 from 11 live chat apps, including BIGO, Tik Tok, Smule and Live Me.

Of those apps, Smule was deemed to be the least safe for work or least appropriate for children, with 613 forms of content blocked from appearing on the app in Indonesia. Much of the content included what the ministry deemed to be “vulgar” clothing.

Tik Tok had the second highest number of blocks with 591, 293 of which were for depicting vulgar clothing, 227 for depicting tattoos and 48 for depicting smoking, alcohol and illegal narcotics.

Kominfo’s use of the word “content” seems to be all-encompassing, describing live streamers as well as their depiction of the aforementioned objects in their videos. The ministry’s release did not specify if it has safeguards from preventing negative content from reappearing on the apps under new or different accounts.

All of the blocks supposedly resulted from complaints made by Indonesian internet users to the ministry. Kominfo is urging the public to continue reporting negative content through their official complaint Twitter account @aduankonten or its website aduankonten.id.

Some of these apps have been on Kominfo’s naughty list before. In July 2018, Kominfo briefly banned Tik Tok over negative content such as videos featuring dancers in provocative clothing. That ban was short-lived as Kominfo agreed to reopen access to Tik Tok Indonesia after the app promised to adhere to Indonesia’s strict internet regulations.

In 2016, BIGO Live was also banned for containing nudity on its live streaming platform. The ban was also lifted after the app promised Kominfo to help filter out negative content from its platform.


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