Communication, Culture, and Governance in Asia| Truth, Not Fear: Countering False Information in a Conflict

Abdul Rohman, Peng Hwa Ang


False information has always been used as a weapon in conflicts. It exacerbates existent tribalism and polarizations in social, political, and cultural milieus. This case study of a civil conflict in Ambon, Indonesia, shows how individuals on both sides of the conflict countered such false information. The study found that having a small but diverse network of friends allowed for crowdsourcing information to counter the falsehoods; information that promulgated hatred was treated with circumspection. A collective identity reenergized the Ambonese’s civic spirit, seeding a common goal to keep Ambon safe. The finding suggests that it may be possible to counter false information by promoting interactions with diverse groups, fostering a civic spirit, building a collective identity, and taming individual biases.


fake news, false information, conflict, Indonesia, counteracting strategy, collective identity

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