Bali Police are calling on the public to ensure that they report crimes and issues of public disturbance to the authorities before posting online.
As social media has become the first port of call when disaster strikes, police want to readdress the balance.
Speaking to the press, the Bali Police are calling on tourists and residents to stop posting incidents of crime and public disturbance online before the authorities have had a chance to respond, or in many cases before the authorities have even been informed.
There are dozens of citizen journalism social media accounts based out of Bali.
A situation that is becoming increasingly normalized throughout Indonesia but especially in Bali, is the public sending videos and photos of crimes, traffic collisions, and public disturbances to these sites, rather than contacting the authorities.
These same sites also post super useful updates at a hyper-local level; everything from traffic jams, lost dogs, to fallen trees, weather updates and shop closures.
There is an underlying feeling amongst many people in Bali that the only way to catch the attention of the authorities is to make situations go viral.
But Bali Police and supporting parties want to affirm that they should be the first point of contact in an emergency. They say that all these viral videos and photos risk ruining the reputation of the Bali tourism sector.
In an all too timely example, just last week, two American tourists shared footage of a taxi driver holding them hostage and extorting money from them.
The pair posted the video on social media, which was quickly shared time and time again.
The situation hit international headlines, and based on the footage, police were able to track the taxi driver down and arrest him.
However, the two women never filed a police report making it difficult for the authorities to now prosecute the individual.
The Head of Public Relations of the Bali Police, Police Commissioner Jansen Avitus Panjaitan, says that the police are not prohibiting residents from recording incidents but urging them to please not immediately make cases viral but rather hand footage over to the authorities as evidence.
Police Commissioner Panjaitan told reporters, “Indeed, with sophistication, anyone who can record please record [the situation], but do so in a way that it is not easy to make it available [to the public].”
“Videos or photos can be handed over to the authorities. What is worrying is that Bali is a tourist destination and the impact could be detrimental to Bali’s tourism.”
He spoke to the mantra ‘no viral no justice’ noting that yes the public attention can be helpful in some cases where evidence and eyewitnesses need to be called in, but that in most cases these viral videos are causing public distress and distrust.
PC Panjaitan added “No viral no justice, we look at the positives that going viral makes it easier for friends in the field to follow up, we are happy that there are people who have this evidence, but don’t make it viral easily.”
”Bali is one of the [top] tourism destinations, making it viral could have a negative impact, outsiders could consider it unsafe in Bali.”
He concluded “We, the Bali Regional Police , of course, every incident is our main task as law enforcement officers, we carry it out well.”
“Community cooperation is needed, please don’t make it viral, it’s better to report it straight away, we need to take care of the impact, we need to always give education to remind the public, good intentions make it viral, don’t give it to an address that could actually have a bad impact.”
Both tourists and local residents in Bali must also be aware that uploading and sharing footage of criminal activity or public disturbance could put them in a precarious position too.
Indonesia’s strict and comprehensive ITE laws govern online communication and can hold those who post content about illegal activity liable, even if they have not taken part in the illegal activity displayed in the content themselves.
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