President Joko Widodo’s administration was recently found by non-profit organisation Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) to have spent IDR 90.4 billion on influencers. According to ICW’s research, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy had 22 packages which procured the services of influencers since 2017 and they amounted to IDR77.66 billion.
Although the Ministry of Communications and Information only had four procurement packages for influencers, they amount to IDR 10.83 billion. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Culture had 12 procurement packages amounting to IDR 1.6 billion. According to ICW, the ministry has worked with influencers such as Gritte Agatha, Ayushita W.N, Atta Halilintar, Citra Kirana, and Zaskia Mecca.
When it came to digital services, the Indonesian National Police came out on top in its digital expenditure at IDR937 billion, followed by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy was also found by ICW to have spent IDR 263.29 billion. The Ministry of Communication and Information and Ministry of Finance each spent IDR21.27 billion and IDR21.25 billion on digital services respectively.
According to ICW, 68 of the procurement packages for digital services contained the phrase “social media”. Keywords such as “influencers” and “key opinion leaders” turned up 40 procurement packages. Meanwhile, keyword searches for “online campaign”, “digital campaign” and “online media” did not turn up any information.
ICW explained that while the use of influencers is common nowadays, there is also the risk of sharing inaccurate information. This is because social media does not have a fact-checking mechanism, unlike official mass media. As such, controversial issues promoted by the government might cause an uproar if netizens are provided inaccurate information by the influencers, especially if the influencers have insufficient knowledge about the issues raised.
The non-profit organisation cited the three influencers who recently apologised for allegedly supporting the job creation bill after they copped flak for posting content in favour of the controversial bill. According to The Jakarta Post, Gofar Hilman, Ardhito Pramono and Aditya Fadillah reportedly used the hashtag #IndonesiaButuhKerja (Indonesia Needs Jobs) in their content.
The influencers, however, said they had no idea about the bill and that it was not mentioned in the campaign brief. The bill was initiated by President Joko Widodo in February this year and aims to improve the ease of doing business in the country as well as attract investment.
The search period for the research was 2014 to 2018 and ICW made use of publicly available information on the electronic procurement service system of various ministries and government agencies.