Indonesia bans GIFs on WhatsApp because of pornography

Authorities in Indonesia have banned the use of GIFs on the popular instant messaging service WhatsApp.

Earlier in the week it gave the service 48 hours to remove ‘obscene images’ provided by third parties.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Informatics said it could not monitor GIFs because of WhatsApp’s encryption. A GIF is an animated graphic file popular on social media and messaging services.

WhatsApp pleaded with the ministry to reach a compromise, but to no avail.

The ministry’s director general, Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan, told Kompas it blocked all six DNS sites run by Tenor, the company the provides GIFs to WhatsApp.

A spokesperson for Tenor, Jennifer Kutz, said it had tried working with the ministry to meet its standards. But it was not clear on what constituted an obscene image.

Kutz told VOA that Tenor ‘regularly’ works with ‘local entities to make sure our content reflects the cultural mores and legal requirements’.

Heavy handed censorship

Jakarta based media outlet Coconuts condemned the GIF ban.

‘The inability of Indonesian Whatsapp users to search for and send GIFs may not be the greatest blow to free speech ever (as we learned from a master hacker, you can simply get around it by searching for a GIF on Google, downloading it to your phone and then uploading it on Whatsapp),’ it editorialized.

‘But nonetheless, it is another win for the forces of over-the-top censorship in Indonesia and of course for parents who are too lazy or irresponsible to monitor their own children’s use of the Internet.’


The GIF ban comes at time when Indonesia is considering banning all positive representations of LGBT onscreen.

Legislation proposed last month would change broadcast law to ban all ‘LGBT behavior’. But the draft bill does not exactly say what the behavior is.

That ban could include explicitly gay characters, traditional or comedic shows with men dressed as women or ‘effeminate’ men.

Read more from Source: Indonesia bans GIFs on WhatsApp because of pornography


About Gay Today

Editor of Gay Today