TRUSTING TWITTERSPHERE AS A GENUINE POLITICAL DEBATE? THE CASE OF INDONESIAN ELECTION HASTAGS
This research in progress explores how political discussion on Indonesian Twittersphere could provide a genuine conversation on debates related to the upcoming 2019 national election in Indonesia. Taking the case of the presidential and parliamentary election in the upcoming April 2019, the author uses social media data on Twitter to investigate whether the discussions are heavily lean into digital public sphere or more dominated by political buzzer and bots. The author examines this by creating Twitter network maps based on hashtags related to the election. Modularity tests are employed to identify the extent of online community developed during the conversations. Most of the hashtags analyzed could attract hundreds of small communities, created mini-publics, which in turn shows the degree of willingness of the Indonesian social media users to participate in this practice of digital citizenship. Qualitative observations on the selection of the most significant actors within the network and the words they posted are employed to understand if the conversations were not led by either dominant political actors or political buzzers/bots, and thus, suggest the citizens’ genuine form of political communication. Despite the limitations of studying Twitter data, the author suggests that by taking a closer attention to how political conversation in non-English/Western political environment, this study might provide valuable insights on the development of genuine utilization of (and trust on) the social media platforms for political engagement.