One day later the threat was dropped as WhatsApp reportedly responded to the Communication and Information Ministry's request. Starting on Tuesday (07/11) Whatsapp users on iPhones were unable to access obscene Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) images.

Earlier, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) urged the government to block such pornographic GIF images that are accessible via emoticons on WhatsApp as children could easily find such pornographic material.

Semuel Pangerapan, Director General at the Communication and Information Ministry, confirmed this on Tuesday (07/11). However, the Indonesian government will continue to summon executives of other messaging services and search engines, such as Google (owned by Alphabet Inc), and urge them to remove pornographic content. Indonesia particularly objects to obscene GIF images that increasingly spread on search engines and Internet-related messaging services.

Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara recently stated that he vowed to protect Indonesians from content that promoted radicalism, terrorism, drugs as well as pornography. Hence, the ministry is eager to curtail the amount of websites that contain pornographic content.

There exists some concern about Indonesia's push to block pornographic content as some see it as a sign of rising radical Islamic influences in Indonesia. In early 2016 Indonesia was in the news after the government ordered all instant messaging providers - for example Line, Twitter and WhatsApp - to remove gay emoticons (such as same-sex couples holding hands or making kiss gestures at each other). Through this removal the government tries to safeguard the "local culture and (religious-inspired) ethics".

Number of Social Media Users at Start 2017:

Platform    World
(in million)
(in million)
Facebook    1,788     88.0
WhatsApp    1,000     12.3
    500     28.0
Line     220     30.0
Twitter     313     16.8

Source: Investor Daily