Even before Covid-19, Indonesians were flooded with many different sources of information contending for their attention and trust. During the pandemic, information has become more contested, with the president sometimes clashing with his ministers and ministers sometimes at odds with each other. The central government has sometimes been in conflict with provincial governors or city and district leaders. Political parties, the military, the police, the media and civil society groups at times have run their own messaging on Covid-19, sometimes with different emphases.
Most Indonesians say they trust the military (94%) and President Joko (92%)
either ‘a great deal’ or ‘somewhat’ to be an accurate and fair source of
information. Just over half of Indonesians (53%) say they have ‘a great deal’ of
trust in both the military and the President.
There are also high levels of trust in scientists and experts (90%) and friends
and family (88%). Religious organisations and leaders, who have vast memberships
and many close followers respectively, are trusted by 87% of the population.
Eight in ten Indonesians trust the police (81%) to be an accurate and fair
source of information.
The same number (81%) express trust in local governments, which have often been
on the frontlines of the Covid-19 response. Media organisations are less
trusted, with 79% expressing trust in television and radio news, 69% in
international media and 67% in local newspapers and websites.
Seven in ten Indonesians (68%) see political parties and elites as trusted
sources of information. The least trusted sources are celebrities and online
influencers, who are often used as promotional channels by the government and
companies keen to tap into their extensive social media following. A bare
majority of Indonesians (56%) trust them, with only 11% saying they have a great
deal of trust in them as sources of fair and accurate information.
Trust in sources of information
To what extent do you trust the following to be an accurate and fair source of information?
Indonesian President, Joko Widodo
Scientists or experts
Friends and family
Civil society groups
Television and radio news
Foreign or international media
Newspapers and online news websites
Influencers and celebrities
A great deal
Not very much
Not at all
Indonesians are among the world’s most active and enthusiastic social media
users and, as elsewhere, there is an increasingly heated debate about the
impacts this is having on society. Some fear that it is a major factor in
exacerbating existing cleavages in society and promoting the spread of
falsehoods. Others believe it is more of a positive levelling force, allowing
people to communicate, share information and do business more freely and with
Respondents are divided when asked ‘what effect social media has on the way
things are going in this country today’. Three in ten say that social media’s
impact is ‘mostly positive’, just under one in five say it is ‘mostly negative’
and just over half say ‘neither’.
Nearly eight in ten of those who think social media is a mostly positive
influence cite the ease of obtaining news and information as their main reason,
while 5% cite the economic and business benefits and 5% cite the ease of social
Of those who think social media is mostly negative, nearly 70% say their main
reason is its use for the spread of hoaxes and inaccurate and unaccountable
information, while 5% say it is damaging young people’s mentality.
In recent years, the government has increased the pressure on social media
giants such as Facebook and Twitter to remove information that it claims is
false. Indonesian media organisations and civil society groups also operate
various fact-checking initiatives. Three-quarters of respondents (76%) say that
they are sometimes or often exposed to political news stories that they believe
to be false or made up. Around 28% say they come across these hoax stories often
and 48% sometimes, while 6% say hardly ever and 18% never.