Online Political Participation and Netizen Anonymity in Indonesia’s Digital Democracy

Pulung S Perbawani(1*), Rahayu Rahayu(2), Irham Nur Anshari(3)

(1) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(2) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(3) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(*) Corresponding Author


The growth of social media in Indonesia has contributed to an increase in the public’s online political participation. This phenomenon has brought forward discussion regarding the pros and cons of online political participation, as related to participants’ identities. The lack of traceability regarding participants’ identities has posed some challenges, including the accountability and legitimacy of opinions.

This research seeks to achieve a comprehensive understanding of anonymity in political participation. By applying the theory of online disinhibition effect, this research attempts to explain the dynamics of anonymity, its implications for political participation on social media, and the effects of anonymity on the quality of digital democracy. Using surveys, focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews, this research seeks to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the issues.

The findings show that the varied degrees of anonymity employed by citizens affect their political participation. In addition, anonymity can be understood as citizens’ mechanism for coping with various possible consequences, such as legal and social retribution in the personal and professional context. We argue that the option to remain anonymous on social media has increased the extent of political participation in Indonesia. However, this increase in the quantity of participation has not necessarily been followed by an increase in its quality. Such a situation, ironically, is due to the nature of anonymity itself, which is further explained through the framework of the online disinhibition effect.


anonymity, digital democracy, online disinhibition effect, political participation, social media

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