Indonesia: Two fact-checkers face doxing

Ika Ningtyas and Zainal Ishaq, two fact-checkers from and also members of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia, were targeted by doxing attacks following their work debunking information related to Covid-19. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate AJI Indonesia to denounce these online attacks and urge the public to recognise the important role of journalists in undercovering facts, particulary during a health pandemic.

An Indonesian woman waits for a train bounds for Jakarta from Bogor station by applying protocols for the COVID-19. Credit: Adek Berry/AFP

CekFakta published four articles to verify Covid-19 claims made by a veterinarian M. Indro Cahyono from April to July. Indro had posted those claims through his social media accounts, which subsequently went viral. The results of fact-checking conducted by Ika and Zainal, found that Indra’s posted were not entirely reliable and may mislead the public.

In the article regarding the PCR test published by Zainal, a comment from an account named Nurul Indra said that Zainal’s verification was wrong and Indro should file a report against Zainal and Tempo to the police. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a diagnostic test for Covid-19

On July 31, Indro shared Zainal’s photos taken from his Facebook account together with the screenshots of fact-checking articles of Indro wrote “fight for terrorist of Covid-19”. On August 1, Indro continued to share Zainal and Ika’s photos online, accusing the journalists of spreading fear.  Indro’s attacks amped up on  August 2 when he posted Zainal’s photo and labelled him as “the God of a global virus outbreak.”

AJI, in its statement, said the two journalists have contacted and interviewed numerous reliable sources including the representative of Indonesian Young Academy of Science (ALMI) and Airlangga University molecular biologist.

“AJI condemns online attacks against our members and reminds everyone that disputes regarding the media publications should follow the Indonesian Press Law mechanism,” AJI added.

The IFJ said: "Fact-checking is essential during the global pandemic to limit the spread of disinformation. IFJ urges authorities and the general public to respect journalists’ rights and acknowledge their crucial role in ensuring information disseminated to the public is accurate and factual.”



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