Yesterday, the Indonesian branch of global messaging service giant LINE announced that it had removed all LGBT related sticker sets from its online store in Indonesia, choosing to follow “local wisdom” (AKA local prejudice and homophobia) after receiving threats of protest from various local users.
But LINE is hardly the only online messaging service that allows its users to express their support for the LGBT community through cute pictures. As many quickly pointed out, LINE’s main competitor, WhatsApp, has gay friendly emoticons that users don’t even have to pay to use (see above).
So how will Indonesia be protected from the moral corruption of these WhatsApp emoticons (which have been available for quite a while and nobody cared about before)? Don’t worry, the government will protect us!
The head of public relations at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ismail Cawidu, asserted that in principle, all social media is obliged to follow the rules, norms and culture of Indonesia.
"We will soon contact WhatsApp to do the same thing (as LINE did)," Ismail said as quoted by Detik.
Ismail said that, although LINE had put “vulgar” LGBT stickers on its online store, the government appreciated that its Indonesian representatives quickly pulled the offending content in accordance with Indonesian norms, customs and religion practices.
"The ministry is appreciative of LINE Indonesia for their understanding and discretion in dealing with matters that could potentially cause public unrest, especially the concerns of mothers for their children in terms of the negative influence the circulation of these LGBT stickers could cause," Ismail said.
So will WhatsApp follow LINE and censor its stickers to appease “local wisdom”? And what about other online services? As others have pointed out, both Twitter and Facebook offer pro-LGBT stickers and emoticons to their users.
The pro-LGBT emoticons are also available on all iOS devices. In fact, some of the pro-LGBT emoticons have now become a part of the standard unicode shared by all smartphones, meaning you can use them and display them on pretty much all gadgets.
So, is the government going to try to get all of those services, and every single smart device censored? And if they don't, are all of those people who were so offended by LINE's LGBT stickers now going to stop using Facebook, Twitter and smartphones in general? (Because frankly we think it would be awesome if they did).