Nur Yasmin, Jakarta – Facebook said on Wednesday during its first-ever Facebook Summit in Jakarta that its myriad of applications – including the Facebook app, Instagram and WhatsApp Messenger – have made positive economic and social impacts on local businesses, the government and the Indonesian society as a whole.
The findings were based on a study sponsored by the tech giant, the majority of whose users are based in the Asia-Pacific.
"We will use the data from this study to formulate exciting and relevant programs for Indonesians," Ruben Hattari, Facebook Indonesia's public policy head, said at the summit.
The results of the study were included in a report titled "Connecting Indonesia: Facebook's Social and Economic Impacts in Indonesia."
The study looked at how Facebook apps have been supporting businesses and the economy, empowering individuals and communities and enabling an effective digital government.
The research was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Indonesia Advisory and the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) from June 27 to Aug. 6 this year, and involved 1,200 individuals, 1,033 business entities, 565 communities and organizations and 410 government officials in all 34 of Indonesia's provinces.
In the business sector, the study said that 92 percent of business entities agree that Facebook's apps have improved customer engagement.
"We were surprised that apparently Facebook apps have played a role in almost every business process such as research, production, distribution and sales. Indonesia has over 59 million small and medium enterprises, they're the spine of the country's economy. We are glad to be a part of that," Ruben said.
The study also revealed that 16 percent of businesses secure international sales and 68 percent secure sales in different cities through the apps.
In the social sphere, it was revealed that 98 percent of Indonesians use at least one Facebook app. Around 81 percent of respondents agreed that the apps have helped them to improve or learn a skill.
"We found that 79 percent of them learn digital skills, 75 percent learn literacy skills and 23 percent learn language skills," Ruben said.
Ruben also said that 94 percent of 565 communities agreed that Facebook apps have helped them gain support for their advocacy.
"For example, our close partner Mafindo [Indonesian Anti-Slander Society] or TurnBackHoax started off as a Facebook group. Now it is a community with over 65,000 members joining for the same cause," he said.
Ruben said that now Mafindo and WhatsApp are developing an in-app chatbot as a fact-checker platform.
In the government sector, the study shows that 75 percent of 410 government officials use Facebook apps to inform the public about policy-making or plans of policy changes. Around 85 percent of them also interact with the public using the apps, allowing them to receive regular feedback.
"The data say 67 percent of them use the apps to get a better understanding of public sentiment and 95 percent to reach out more to the public. The Directorate General of Immigration [at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry], for one, uses our apps massively, serving up to 70,000 citizens daily through our apps," Ruben said.
Indonesia has over 115 million Facebook app users, making it one of the largest digital markets in Southeast Asia.
Benjamin Joe, Facebook Vice President for Southeast Asia, said the Facebook Summit was held to show the company's commitment to making positive impacts in Indonesia.
The summit hosted a series of workshops and talk shows with numerous Facebook Indonesia communities and businesspeople.
"This summit aims to connect, support and celebrate communities and businesses on our platforms. We are in Indonesia for Indonesia, so we want to make sure we have an economic impact that will help the country to progress," Joe said.