Jakarta – The Executive Office of the President has denied using so-called "buzzers" to support the government and its policies, claiming that it only hires social media influencers to help educate the public on certain policies.
"We don't use buzzers at all," Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, the office's deputy head of politics, law, security and human rights affairs, said Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.
Buzzers, who tend to be anonymous, are often directly paid to espouse certain political views, while influencers are public figures with a strong presence on social media. Influencers tend to have many followers and may openly promote brands.
Jaleswari said the office only accepted the service of influencers, including experts that had the capacity to discuss strategic issues, as buzzers tended to be anonymous when addressing issues.
She also claimed that the Executive Office of the President did not give special treatment to influencers.
"Payments are given according to the budget of ordinary sources. We use transparent and accountable principles while not diminishing the government's attitude of allowing us to have different opinions."
Previously, Donny Gahral Adian, a leading expert at the office, echoed a similar statement, saying that the government never hired buzzers.
"I want to clarify that the government has never organized buzzers. [Buzzers] exist because of democracy," he said during a discussion hosted by the University of Indonesia's Alumni Association (Iluni UI) on Tuesday.
He explained that, in a democracy, rulers and their opposition usually had supporters, regardless of whether they were paid to speak up or if they did it on their own volition.
"There are indeed private buzzers who work independently. Their political affiliations can lead toward the ruler or to the opposition," he said, adding that buzzers who violated the law should be held accountable.
The statements came amid suspicion from the public that the government uses buzzers to support and defend its policies.
Concerns over the alleged hired buzzers escalated following recent cyberattacks that were directed toward government critics, including online news publication Tempo.co, which had its website defaced, and Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist from the University of Indonesia whose Twitter account was hacked. (mfp)