Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Indonesia: Twitter nation

Click to play
Social networking in Indonesia
  • Indonesia is fourth biggest user of Facebook
  • Social media is popular and used by civil groups to exchange ideas
  • Most people access the internet via mobile devices
  • Only 12 percent of the country had internet access in 2009

(CNN) -- For vacationers, Indonesia can conjure images of sandy beaches, palm trees, and smiling inhabitants.

So it may come as a bit of a surprise that Indonesia is actually buzzing with fast fingered tuned-in techies.

"The silent majority of middle class Indonesians who are so busy with their careers, with their family now have found the place where they can just say what they like, what they think and what they feel, online," said Enda Nasution.

He is one of the country's well-known bloggers and has seen the use of social media explode.

To prove his point, Indonesia is the world's fourth largest user of Facebook and has been dubbed the most Twitter-addicted nation on the planet by online research firm comScore.

The silent majority of middle class Indonesians now have found the place where they can say what they like.
--Enda Nasution, Indonesian blogger
  • Indonesia
  • Internet
  • Media
  • Facebook Inc.

The country beat every other nation in the percentage of online Twitter users. That is never more apparent than when there's a big news story that peeks the country's interest.

For example, when America's First Lady Michelle Obama shook hands with Indonesia's conservative Muslim information minister whose beliefs forbid him touching women who are not relatives, it was one of Twitter's trending topics and created a punch line for comedian Stephen Colbert thousands of miles away on U.S. television.

"After the conservative minister's handshake Indonesians took to Facebook and Twitter where they scolded him for hypocritical behavior. Really, Facebook and Twitter?" Colbert quipped on his cable TV show, "The Colbert Report".

Indonesia is crazy about online social networking. There are even groups that gather in the evenings to discuss tech trends. But all the Tweeting, texting, and typing isn't just for fun. It is also being used as a tool for change.

The "Save Jakarta" movement is to let regular citizens point out everyday problems that need to be fixed in the city. "We are nobody, just Jakarta citizens and we want to do something to show that we are concerned just with using Twitter and make a "Save Jakarta" movement," one of the members of the group said.

They movement got its idea from the first well publicized social networking case that took up a case and had a big impact. It was called "A coin for Prita."

Last year the government slapped hospital patient Prita Mulyasari with a 204 million rupiah (about $21,000) defamation lawsuit for e-mailing a complaint to her friends about her care in a government hospital.

In response Indonesia's social networkers turned into outraged fundraisers and with the help of traditional media raised the money to pay what was seen as an unjust debt.

"In the end we got about 800-million rupiah ($90,000), [more than] four times the amount that we supposed to collect," Nasution said. "The court finally released her and stated that she's not guilty."

The case seemed to strike a chord with how people viewed social networking in the country. Indonesia still has low internet penetration; 2009 statistics show it is just over 12 percent in the country.

Most people use their mobile phones to access the web.

Social networking sites are salivating at the possibilities as the country works to get more and more connected.


Most popular Tech stories right now