Hoax in Modern Politics: The Meaning of Hoax in Indonesian Politics and Democracy
Pratiwi Utami


The propagation of hoaxes on social media contributed to political tension in many countries. The 2016 USA presidential election provides evidence for how fake news has generated more social media engagement than real news. In multicultural Indonesia, the history of anti-communist, anti-Christian, and anti-Chinese pogroms increases the level of sensitivity and sentiment, especially when dealing with racial issues. This paper explores the role of hoaxes in Indonesia’s contemporary politics. It investigates the characteristics of hoax information circulated on social media during the 2017 Jakarta election using memetic practice approach. This study perceives hoaxes as having acted like memes in the ways in which they dismantle existing source material to tap into ideas or sentiments people connect with. Hoaxes as memes alter original items into new forms of artifact with new messages that resonate with existing beliefs in society. Consequently, hoaxes can create a culture that is based on a shared belief among the community and in the era of increasing polarization, a hoax is potential to be a means of political partisanship. However, with the tendency to overpower truth and lead people to avoid believing facts, hoax can be a threat to participatory democracy.