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Digital Literacy is a Solution to Counter the Spread of Radicalism

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By : Rahmat Gunawan *)

Radicalism and terrorism are very dangerous for peace in Indonesia. Therefore, radicalism must be dispelled, so as not to spread and destroy the nation. One way is through digital literacy. If everyone has digital skills, they will not be trapped by hoaxes and propaganda in cyberspace, which are deliberately created by radical groups.

Social media (medsos) is a place to exist and add old friends, as well as reunite with old friends. In Indonesia, there are a lot of social media users, even Indonesian netizens are among the top 5 social media users in the world. Almost everyone (especially young people) often uploads photos on Instagram and other social media.

However, the rise of social media is used by radical groups. They are starting to get in there, both on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media. They observe the penchant of Indonesian people who seem unable to live without social media. Then create an account there, with the aim of spreading hoaxes, propaganda, and content containing radicalism.

Kamarudin Hasan, Lecturer of Communication Studies at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) at Malikussaleh University, stated that digital content containing radicalism and terrorism falls into the post truth category, which can fool the public. The impact of radicalism and terrorism is the division of society. In a sense, the public must be aware of the content on social media, because it could be just a fiction from radical groups.

Meanwhile, content creator Kristayuana stated that individuals who have digital skills are able to understand and use the following gadgets with all their applications. Digital skills are important for selecting everything that is found on the internet.

The public should also not be easily exposed to hoaxes on the internet.
In a sense, the ferocity of radicalism in cyberspace can be dispelled if people have digital skills. Especially on social media, because everyone can have their own social media account, and can manipulate age and place of residence (because there is no need to include an ID card or other official identity card). This is what radical groups take advantage of and they create social media accounts, in order to find new cadres.

Radical groups create FB groups or accounts on Instagram, then fill them with various content. In general, the content contains hoaxes, which make people hate the government but instead pro-radicalism. For example, about worship during a pandemic. In the hoax, it is narrated that the government forbids the people to worship. Even though the truth is that during a pandemic, worship is regulated to comply with health protocols.

There are still many examples of hoaxes and propaganda made by radical groups. People read about it on social media or WA groups, when someone forwards them. This is where digital literacy is needed so as not to be trapped by propaganda and hoaxes, as well as being trapped by harmful fake news.

The way to improve digital literacy is to diligently read. Often Indonesian netizens are lazy to read and even just read the news title, without paying close attention to the contents. Even though now there are many click-bait news with different contents and titles, which are deliberately created by radical groups to mislead the public (and gain dollars from adsense).

People need to read carefully if there is news, especially those obtained from social media. Don’t just skim and share it with emotion, because it could be a hoax created by a radical group. Reading doesn’t take long and you have to read it slowly, to digest the content.

If Indonesians read diligently, they will know the characteristics of genuine news and hoax news (produced by radical groups). Usually hoax news is obtained from media with unusual names, or even free websites (not .com or .co.id). The quality of the writing is also mediocre.

When there is hoax news, the public immediately reports it to the cyber police, because they are the security forces in cyberspace. The cyber police will investigate and then find out where the IP-address of the account manager who spreads the hoax is. If these radicals are caught, they will stem radicalism in Indonesia.

In addition, the community can improve digital literacy skills by teaching it from school age. Currently, many elementary school students have cellphones. They are taught not to easily trust new people who are known on social media or game applications. They are also taught to read carefully and don’t just click ‘yes’, especially if they don’t understand English.

Parents are also expected to supervise their children in using social media. They were directed not to look at their cellphones too often, but to increase physical activity outside the home. If children play cellphones, they must read carefully and don’t just follow someone on social media, because it could be that he is a member of a radical group.

Skills in digital literacy are the key in dispelling the flow of radicalism, especially on social media. If people are literate, they will not be affected by hoaxes and propaganda made by radical groups. In this way, radicalism cannot develop in Indonesia and will eventually become extinct.

*The author is a contributor to the Bunda Mulia Institute

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