Muslim Cyber Army: a ‘fake news’ operation designed to derail Indonesia’s leader


Police in Indonesia make arrests as Guardian investigation reveals fake Twitter accounts and violent propaganda.

Police in Indonesia believe they have uncovered a clandestine fake news operation designed to corrupt the political process and destabilise the government.

In a string of arrests across the archipelago in recent weeks, authorities have revealed the inner workings of a self-proclaimed cyber-jihadist network known as the Muslim Cyber Army (MCA).

The network is accused of spreading fake news and hate speech to inflame religious and ethnic schisms; fan paranoia around gay men and lesbians, alleged communists and Chinese people; and spread defamatory content to undermine the president.

Police say the network was orchestrated through a central Whatsapp group called the Family MCA.

One wing was tasked with stockpiling divisive content to disseminate, while a separate “sniper” team was employed to hack accounts and spread computer viruses on the electronic devices of their opponents.

The arrest of 14 individuals is the second such syndicate police have busted in the last year – deepening fears around Indonesia’s vulnerability to the pernicious spread of fake news.

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