May 28, 2024
Ilustrasi Haura Ihsani

In the Shadow of Hoaxes: Challenges to Democracy in the 2024 Election

Currently, the public is still considered vulnerable to information disruption during the 2024 election series. This disruption has an impact on trust in democracy, election management institutions, and election administration. In 2023, before the voting took place, the Indonesian Anti-Defamation Society (Mafindo) noted that there was around a double increase in political hoaxes compared to the 2019 election season.

Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Government Politics Department lecturer Arga Pribadi Imawan said that digital space politics, or social media, is able to show that candidates appear more easily connected and accessible to voters. According to Arga, this is because politics in the digital space works through symbols that are easily understood by young voters.

“Hastags on social media have the power to mobilize the masses, change voting behavior, and build counter narratives,” explained Arga in an online discussion by the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) entitled “Information Disturbances in the 2024 Election” (15/3).

Based on the We Are Social report, in 2024 Indonesia will rank second in social media users with 126.83 million; this figure is only behind the United States as first in social media users with 148.02 million users. Arga said that the important role of social media for campaigns means that hoaxes are produced and spread for certain political interests. Research by the Center for Political Information (Puspen Pol) shows the Prabowo-Gibran pair as the most popular presidential and vice presidential candidates on TikTok, with total posts reaching 1.4 million and total views reaching 26.2 billion.

Apart from that, according to data from the Independent Election Awareness Committee (KISP) and Young Talk ID from the Meta advertising gallery, the Prabowo-Gibran candidate pair published 1,368 pieces of content with an expenditure of IDR 840,197,096. Meanwhile, the Advanced Indonesia Coalition from August 2020 to October 2023 spent 8.67 billion on advertising on social media, and accounts supporting Prabowo-Gibran from personal accounts poured 6.2 billion into campaigns on social media.

According to Arga, hoaxes that emerged during the election were not only spread through broadcast messages but were mostly dominated by short videos containing video clips that were reinforced by campaign narratives. The content is then distributed through an algorithm using hashtags. Arga views hashtags as something that is not neutral because they are constructed by a team with a specific purpose, which, according to him, can reduce and erode the essence of politics.

“The most obvious thing is the decline of programmatic politics, so the implication is that when voters are driven by narrative hashtags, it will bury what is actually the work program of each candidate pair,” explained Arga.

In the election series, Lulum Nurul Amalia categorized election information disturbances into three types: disinformation that attacks election participants, election process disinformation, and election technical disinformation. According to his findings, the number of hoaxes for the 2024 election of all three types increased compared to previous elections, with the number of hoaxes getting higher before and after voting day.

“The disinformation was actually saved at the end of the election stages, because at the beginning, what was being developed was the candidate’s positive image,” said Amalia.

Amalia explained that, based on the Peace Coalition’s findings, the spread of disinformation on social media was most widespread on the YouTube platform with a percentage of 33.2%, followed by Tiktok with 24.4%, Facebook with 21.9%, and Twitter (X) with 10.1%. Amel views that disinformation spreading in the 2024 election is much more difficult to detect, because most of it takes the form of videos accompanied by text narratives and captions containing disinformation.

Furthermore, according to Amalia, the absence of regulations regarding paid political advertising and the lack of transparency in advertising on social media platforms allow the spread of disinformation as paid political advertising targeted at certain users. This shows that this practice is dangerous for democracy. Needem’s findings illustrate that the spread of disinformation aims to obscure public information about technical election procedures and delegitimize the election process.

“The challenge for the 2024 election is that there is more loose disinformation, the topic of which is actually shallow and easily identified as a hoax, but our information ecosystem is in fact flooded with as much information as possible, which makes netizens confused,” he explained.

To tackle the spread of election disinformation, Amelia called on the General Election Commission (KPU) to improve public communication because verification of election disinformation is very dependent on information from election organizers. Apart from that, he also suggested that social media platforms provide a special place for educational content and valid information for social media users, in addition to deleting accounts or channels that produce and spread election disinformation on a regular and periodic basis.

Researcher and Digital Democracy Activist, Anita Wahid, believes that the biggest problem with hoaxes is that people do not realize that they are vulnerable to being exposed to hoaxes, so they are often careless when using social media. In fact, according to him, awareness and recognition that people are vulnerable to hoaxes are the main protection against hoaxes. Apart from that, the widespread spread of hoaxes is also caused by the public’s inability to understand democratic procedures in elections.

“That’s why hoaxes are so effective, because they take advantage of people’s negligence who feel that they are immune to hoaxes,” said the daughter of the 4th President of the Republic of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur). []