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Faking The News | Week 2

News Format

A little background on Indonesia's media landscape: while Facebook is the most popular platform used in Indonesia, the most popular online activity is actually mobile-messaging. Platforms such as WhatsApp and LINE are widely used, in both personal and professional settings.

Probably because of the communal aspect of a group/private channel, Indonesians love to share "news" or (often religious) anecdotes via mobile messenger. This behaviour is so common LINE even started its own news room and currently push-notifies their "news of the day" summaries to their users.

For this class, I was thinking of creating several pieces of news on the same story, made specifically for different platforms that Indonesians like to use.

1) Facebook Album

The caption reads: "(Continued). THE LIPPO WAY. Monday to Friday, lie to the people. Saturday & Sunday, lie to GOD."

A lot of my friends on Facebook share personal albums / pictures / statuses that have news value, often accompanied by a very long caption telling personal story or opinion in essay form.

What is interesting here is that these shared albums are not made by news publishers, but personal ones. Their shareability relies not on the reputation of the news source, but how moving and personal the captions are.

So to disseminate "fake albums" on Facebook, I don't need a publisher page, but a fake personal page.

// Things to prepare for this format:

  • A fake facebook profile

  • A long "personal" caption / anecdote covering the fake news

  • Fake photos (photoshopped) to be published as album

This looks like an official government letter. Very. Easy. To. Fake.

2) Fake News Site

One of the most visited site in Indonesia is, a local news portal. I plan to create a fake page emulating as my fake news landing page.

If I have time, I'd also like to emulate another lesser-known right-wing portal called

Both of these news portals are not known for great and accurate journalism, so I think even with a ridiculous headline, people will still believe it comes out from either two of the portals.

// Things to prepare for this format:

  • A domain very very similar to /

  • Fake web page. Can be done through copying the source code, or just having an image as the web page.

3) Messenger Chain Message

This is an actual message sent by my grandmother.

It is quite self-explanatory: I will adapt the news piece into a message format, and broadcast it to my contact list on Whatsapp and LINE.

The tricky part is figuring out how to not compromise my identity since the recipients will know that I personally send out / start the chain message. I think I would need to ask my friends to help me send the chain message to their own contacts at the same time, so that it'd seem that I wasn't the creator.

// Things to prepare for this format:

  • Enlist collaborators to help distribute the chain message

  • Trackable link going to the fake site



My plan to distribute and track the performance of my fake news is as following

So the fake site will be the landing page of the chain message link, while FB album stands on its own.


The Fake Story

I wrote about the basic reality I want to work on in my previous post.

TLDR version: there are some motives that (I think) cause the so-called fear amongst the Muslim majority in Indonesia:

  • Becoming socially & culturally irrelevant (or non-dominant, as compared to the liberal lifestyle portrayed in the media)

  • Economic & political insecurity (because of China and/or ethnic Chinese Indonesian)

  • Inability to separate religion & state

To get the news readers triggered, I would then need to touch upon one or a few of these motives. However, to remain within the ethical borderline, I will create a satire, something along the lines of Onion's Abortionplex.

There are a few headlines I came up with:

  • Meet (insert convincing name here), China's first Muslim Billionaire with lofty political ambitions.

  • Must read! These are the reasons why China's top businessmen are converting to Islam

  • President's office: "Assimilation Centre" for immigrant workers and non-natives to be ready by late 2018

  • China to withdraw all investment from Indonesia in 2 years; 300,000 people are expected to lose their jobs

  • Chinese lady denounced her ethnicity, becomes Indonesia's first female Supreme Court Justice

I think I will test these headlines with my Indonesian friends, just for a quick litmus test, and see which headline they think is the most triggering.


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