HomeSoutheast Asian Media Studiesvol. 3 no. 1 (2021)

Impacts of Platform Capitalism on Community Activism in Indonesia




Indonesian community activism, as manifest in the collective house phenomena and social movements, has historically been connected to radical community media or media komunitas, media controlled and created by grassroots activists and artists. But as Indonesia, one of Southeast Asia’s greatest users of corporate social media in South-East Asia, activists and artists are beginning to rely more on platform capitalism and corporate social media platforms as a tool for social organising. While it is argued that this has had some benefits, especially during the Covid19 pandemic in which physical contact has been greatly restricted, there are emerging issues and concerns around anonymity, surveillance, control of content and state repression. This article reviews literature platform capitalism and Indonesian community activism on interviews in June 2020 with members of the Ruang MES56 and KUNCI collective houses in Yogyakarta. Furthermore, it reflects on the second author's own experiences on the use of platform capitalism in the social movements against the controversial Indonesian Omnibus Law. This article describes issues and concerns expressed by participants and more broadly with the use of platform capitalism as a tool for social organisation in Indonesia doing so it questions to what extent contemporary activists and artists should rely on such platforms to achieve their goals. Finally, reflecting on the findings from the study and pertinent literature, this article examines some of the reasons why platform capitalism is not an adequate substitute for physical space in Indonesia.