Jakarta – While acknowledging that some reports of street crimes that have recently gone viral on social media are genuine, the Jakarta Police has warned netizens not to uncritically accept every piece of information circulating on social media as many may be misleading.
Photos and videos of brawls between alleged members of motorcycle gangs have recently caused concern among Jakarta residents and commuters.
Amid the concern over possible misinformation, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono reassured the public, saying that many photos and videos circulating on social media were of crimes that actually took place several months ago, and several incidents took place in regions outside Java, he said.
"Many photos and videos that recently went viral on social media are re-uploads of incidents that occurred years ago. Those who regularly commute to and from Jakarta don't need to worry," Argo told the press on Tuesday, adding that the police already arrested a number of gang members last year.
However, the police also confirmed that several crimes reported on social media did actually take place across Greater Jakarta earlier this month.
A brawl broke out between two groups of youths in Berlan, Matraman, East Jakarta, in the early hours of May 13. No casualties were reported in the incident.
Matraman subdistrict head Bambang Eko Prabowo told kompas.com the brawl was caused by an Instagram video posted by a group of youths in Matraman who wanted to take revenge against a gang from Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, who reportedly instigated a brawl in Matraman the previous week.
Furthermore, in the early hours of May 9, members of an alleged motorcycle gang attacked five teenagers using sharp weapons in Kampung Lio, Depok in West Java.
Pancoran Mas Police head Comr. Roni Wowor said the five young men were immediately taken to Citama Hospital in Bogor for treatment.
A violent altercation also took place between teenagers carrying bladed weapons in Kwitang, Central Jakarta, on May 5. One died during the conflict and suspects have since been arrested, Argo said.
In Cakung, East Jakarta, a group of men on motorcycles brandished sharp weapons on the night of May 5, as reported by kompas.com.
East Jakarta Police head Sr. Comr. Ady Wibowo said the group had initially wanted to fight with local residents.
"The suspects received a broadcast message through WhatsApp to brawl. Fortunately, none of the residents were provoked by their actions, so the brawl never took place," Ady said.
In addition to brawls between gangs, netizens have also been concerned about a possible spate of street robberies.
Instagram user @rezamotovlog recently posted a video depicting two men who allegedly attempted to rob him while he was driving his motorcycle in Gandaria, South Jakarta.
"Please be careful when you're driving late at night. I just evaded a robbery attempt around Gandaria City at 1 a.m.," he wrote in his post.
Argo of the Jakarta Police said the police were collaborating with the Indonesian Military (TNI) to intensify patrols around the city to ensure safety in the capital.
"Be skeptical of all information you receive on social media. It may be misleading. Jakarta is safe; the police are here to ensure security across the city," he said.
Separately, the Communications and Information Ministry's director general for information applications, Samuel Abrijani Pangarepan said he had yet to be informed about the viral violent videos and pictures, but said they would block such media content on social media as soon as possible.
"However, [media content] on WhatsApp is difficult to detect, but, it doesn't mean that we can't. It just needs extra effort," he told the Post. (rfa/das)