Good Cyber Story
Country: Indonesia
Target Groups: Journalists, Society
Dominant Genes: Political Importance, Resources, Local Ownership
DNA sequence Info


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The challenge


Misinformation, disinformation, hoaxes, fake news, and more generally doctored information are among the major global challenges of our age, especially during uncertain times and over divisive matters. As the United Nations put it, ‘we are in a moment of global reckoning with the pandemic sweeping across the globe, worldwide protests for racial justice and the climate emergency. Misinformation, hate speech and fake news is fueling and distorting all of these challenges.’

Indonesia has over 260 million inhabitants and is the fourth most populated nation in the world. As the fifth-largest nationality on Twitter, with the second-highest WhatsApp user population in Asia-Pacific and over 126 million Facebook users, it is not immune from ‘hoaxes’: the umbrella term used in the country to refer to disinformation and misinformation (see here for more on definitions and terms). Yenni Kwok has pointed out that false claims and fraudulent information have become an even bigger problem in the post-Suharto era of democracy.

Hoaxes can have severe consequences at all levels. With their potential to influence how individuals think and vote, or what they believe, hoaxes can undermine democratic values as well as the peaceful living of communities. Hoaxes not only erode democracy but also undermine citizens’ trust in the openness of cyberspace and the positive impact of technology in general. Furthermore, measures adopted by states to fight doctored information may lead to potential abuses: for example, limitations of freedom of expression for citizens or restrictions in Internet access.

A response

In 2015, a Facebook group named FAFHH (Anti Slander, Provocation, and Hoax Forum) was created by Harry Sufehmi as a crowdsourced hoax-busting effort, i.e. a platform where members would work together to debunk disinformation. Since then, FAFHH has turned into MAFINDO (Indonesian Anti Hoax Community), a community with over 80,000 members, 17 chapters across the country and more than 300 volunteers.

MAFINDO has built offensive and defensive anti-hoax capabilities through fact-checking activities, a machine-assisted hoax-busting mechanism, multi-channel counter-propaganda and the production of anti-hoax education materials. Among other initiatives, MAFINDO’s hoax-buster team maintains the Global Hoax Database (GHD), developed a machine-to-machine interface for it (Yudistira) and released ASE, an Anti-Hoax Search Engine that allows users to surf on hoax-free websites.

The Impact

During the 2014 presidential elections in Indonesia, hoaxes represented a severe threat to the rights of Indonesians to be correctly informed, and hence to vote freely and fairly. At that time, several hoaxes targeted controversial ethnic and religious issues, thereby fuelling social tensions and havoc. Two years later, during the Jakarta gubernatorial elections, massive disinformation campaigns led to the downfall of the leading candidate, who suffered greatly from doctored information about his ethnic and religious identity.

Contrary to the expectations of many, the 2019 Indonesian presidential elections did not follow the same path. Quite the opposite: they were declared hoax-free, thanks also to the watchdog activities carried out by the fact-checking alliance CekFakta. MAFINDO provided its fact-checking support during Presidential debates and worked to chase hoaxes on WhatsApp and Telegram. For example, it set up a line that citizens could use to report hoaxes via WhatsApp, receiving over 2,000 reports.

In 2018, the Independent Journalist Association gave MAFINDO the Tasrif Award. In the same year, the Hoax Crisis Center set up by MAFINDO was credited as the leader of peacekeeping efforts during the West Kalimantan local election, where potential riots were successfully averted.

Project DNA

Which aspects of this project have contributed to its success? And which, according to the implementing organisations, might play an important role in launching similar initiatives in other parts of the world? The project DNA profiling on the basis of the Good Cyber Stories framework highlighted the importance of three success genes in particular:

I - Political Importance


R - Resources

Transparency & Accountability

O - Local Ownership

Multi-Stakeholder Participation


Project DNA

Multi-Stakeholder Participation
Local Ownership
Organisational Capacity
Transparency and Accountability
Legal and Institutional Framework
Political Importance
Societal Awareness

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