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Indonesian election candidate with bloody past is popular on TikTok as 'cool grandpa' |  outside

Indonesian election candidate with bloody past is popular on TikTok as 'cool grandpa' | outside

The most likely candidate to win the Indonesian elections, Prabowo Subianto, has committed some crimes in the past. But now young voters appear to be fascinated by the change in defense secretary. Haunted by allegations of human rights abuses and disappearances, the former Special Forces commander has become a great-grandfather photographed on social media.

look. Indonesian election favorites are trending on TikTok

Prabowo, now 72, is running to succeed current President Joko Widodo when the world's third-largest democracy votes on February 14. It promises greater stability and economic developments as promoted by the current president during his time in power. Only his past is less attractive. As a special forces commander under dictator Suharto, Prabowo is said to have allowed dire situations in the Asian country of East Timor in the 1980s. For example, in the late 1990s he ordered the kidnapping of more than 20 democracy activists, 13 of whom are still missing. As a result, he was exiled from America and Australia for a time. Prabowo himself denies all accusations and wrongdoing.

Presidential candidate dance

In between the atrocities, he twice tried to become president of Indonesia, but has yet to succeed. That's why Prabowo underwent a transformation. Social media is filled with videos of the presidential candidate dancing. The result is that young Internet users, often unaware of his past, find the videos attractive. This is no coincidence: more than half of Indonesia's 204 million voters are millennials or younger, and Prabowo is now very popular among them, too, thanks to social media. Nearly four-fifths of Indonesians own smartphones, so politicians can reach people even in the most remote parts of inhabited islands.

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Prabowo's popularity on TikTok also increased thanks to his opponent, Gebran Rakabuming, the son of the current president. Among other things, he posts videos of young Indonesians pretending to talk to their future children. The most popular videos on TikTok have been viewed more than 20 million times, rivaling Taylor Swift's average per day.

TikTok is changing elections

Indonesia has more TikTok users than any other country except America. The typical user scrolls 29 hours a month, according to The Economist, making it one of the most popular social media platforms in the country. It also makes politics more fun. Unlike X (formerly Twitter) which is used by people interested in candidates' policies. TikTok, on the other hand, turns elections into memes, songs and dances, social media expert Rustica Hirlambang tells The Economist.

TikTok has thus taken the appeal of personality over politics to another level. Another rival, Genjar Branwo, complains in The Economist that young voters are not interested in his policies, but are more interested in the videos that go viral on social media. Anies Baswedan, the third presidential candidate, widened his lead over Jangar in the polls, thanks in part to a social media campaign that attracted many K-pop fans in Indonesia.

Hundreds of fake accounts on social networking sites

That's why Indonesia's election monitoring agency is working with TikTok to combat fake news and hoaxes. Although this is difficult to control, because some people get paid to promote a politician online and attack his rivals. like Social media hacking Known in Indonesia as Whistles It is said to be used in all campaigns. A typical one whistle He is a young, educated man who runs up to hundreds of fake social media accounts, says Wija Wijayanto of Diponegoro University in Java, the country's most populous island. The reward of one whistle It starts with a few hundred dollars a month but can be much more. According to TikTok, it is estimated that Prabowo's campaign cost up to 30 times more than his competitors, which is a huge advantage.

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