Abstract: In transitional democratic countries with significant digital media user bases, the “authoritarian turn in digital media” has resulted in new forms of media control designed to counter critical media exposure. This article investigates the ongoing digital pressures experienced by Indonesian media organizations and investigative journalists by the partisan supporters of the country’s new authoritarian political leaders. This article provides a critical review of the forms of media control that have emerged in Indonesia within the past five years (2015–2020), giving special attention to the doxing allegedly faced by several news media and journalistic projects: IndonesiaLeaks; Tempo magazine; and WatchDoc. Applying qualitative methods (observation, semi-structured interviews, review of documents), this study finds that the rise of non-state and societal control over critical media leads to self-censorship amongst media and journalists. This study shows that online trolls, doxing, and hyper-partisan news outlets are used as new forms of media control. Control is also exerted by paid-social media buzzers, whose online identity is established by their use of digital and social media platforms to manipulate information and counter critical news regarding incumbent and oppositional political leaders. This article contributes to the academic debate on the intended forms of media control in digital politics of transitional democracies.
Keywords: digital politics; doxing; Indonesia; journalism; media buzzers; media control