Earlier this week, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Indonesian Government, KomInfo, had officially confirmed that it had blocked the popular short video sharing app Tik Tok.

The ministry had also informed Tik Tok Indonesia’s management team to clean up its content.

This is after the authorities had received multiple complaints about indecency and inappropriateness of some of the videos shared on Tik Tok’s local service.

Many, especially friends from China, have ask Momentum Works about our perspective towards this blockage. Here are our thoughts:

1. Some facts: this is not the first time a Chinese content/social media platform encounters such issue in Indonesia: live-streaming platform Bigo Live and News aggregator Baca were blocked, removed from Google Play or required to clean up content before.

2. The authorities have not made it an outright ban. It only required Tik Tok to clean up the content. Therefore if Tik Tok complies to the satisfaction of Kominfo, its service could be back online. This is different from the ban of Blued, a LGBT dating app from China, earlier, as the authorities saw Blued as fundamentally contravening the core value of Indonesian society. (That is their view, we do not intend to get into this debate.)

Minister of Communications and Informatics, Mr. Rudiantara, explains why Blued is shut out from the Indonesian market (Source: CNN Indonesia / Patricia Diah Ayu Saraswati)

3. Cleaning up and monitoring of content require some investment, especially in personnel and management. We believe Tik Tok will bite this bullet to ensure the system is back online. Tik Tok has better monetization potential than many other content platforms – and we think this is a price worth paying.

4. Platforms in China have faced similar actions from authorities before. Kuaishou (快手app), a competitor of Tik Tok’s parent company, was taken off the shelf briefly; while Nei han duan zi (內含段子), a sister service of Tik Tok from the same company, was banned outright. Authorities in many countries are figuring out a boundary of their actions – to shield the public from inappropriate content while not killing innovation. It will be a long and iterative process, and we think it is a balance the industry has to work with the authorities to find together.

5. Governments are made of individuals with potentially different opinions, and some times opinions do change, especially when new parties are elected to be in power. The regional elections recently gave no clear indication of who might win in next year’s presidential election. Our thought is whoever wins, overall Indonesia will still sail towards openness and transparency. It will not be all smooth sailing, but it is getting there slowly and firmly.

Elections are coming

Thanks for reading The Low Down, insight and inside knowledge from the team at Momentum Works. If you’d like to get in touch with us about any issues discussed on our blog, please drop us an email at [email protected] and let us know how we can help.


Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].