It is not a novel fact that social media opens doors for extremist groups in Indonesia. A number of studies and investigations have continuously reported the role of social media and online activism to support terrorist and extremist groups for either, general or particular, interest.
Most analysts quickly point out that the most important function of social media is propaganda—posting images, texts and ideas, to attract people to join or justify their causes, although several reports stress on more specific purposes.
The historical linkages to on-line radicalization are well documented. Moreover, although the mechanism of radicalization is understood, security forces continue to struggle to counter radical ideologies. In June 2015, Greg Barton wrote, “IS is masterful at both messaging and engaging one-on-one, we must become just as good in doing both.”
One of the reasons for the lack of success in countering radical extremisms is the over analyzation of the narrative. Most extremist movements carry a relatively simple message.
A message easily understood by the target audience and more easily adopted. Global Public Policy Watch (2014) argues that social media is primarily used by Indonesian extremists for recruitment, especially the young population who is increasingly targeted through campaigns and messages on Facebook and Twitter.
For example, Twitter in Indonesia produces approximately 15 per cent of the global messaging traffic after the United States and Brazil. Therefore, understanding and countering the militant narrative on Twitter gains strategic importance.
An effective counter narrative consists of photo(s), video(s), and 140 characters only. Not more, not less. With Indonesia being predominately Muslim, it can be argued the Islamic narrative will hold stronger resonance within the Islamic world as the sheer volume of messaging traffic allows to generate larger volume traffic compared to the jihadist messages.
However, this will require active operational and policy actions across the media landscape. The Institute of Opinion (2014) notices that extremist groups appropriate their provocative messages as well as carry out a narrative warfare with opposite ideologies.