Social Media as Safe Haven for Radicalism Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Indonesia’s Perspective
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought us so much uncertainty and change for society. Behind the uncertainty people are forced to adapt to the ‘new normal’ for every aspect of their lives. This new normal is also used by radical groups to make social media a safe place to carry out their activities. Although the use of social media to spread radicalism is no longer considered a novelty, but the pandemic has turned social media into a more convenient platform for radicals and extremists as more and more people are involved every day. Using qualitative methods, this study aims to analyze the threat of radicalism through social media which is a real threat to Indonesia during the pandemic and how the government’s strategy is to deal with this threat. This paper finds that the number of social media users in Indonesia has reached 51.5% since the beginning of the pandemic and most of them are of productive age. The study concludes that the pandemic has expanded recruitment and radicalization through social media by reaching more people and spreading more narratives and hoaxes. To deal with these threats, the Indonesian government uses strategies to combat narratives, increase digital literacy, and block content and accounts to minimize the echo of radicalization on social media.