Hate speech group found in Indonesia

This article is more than 12 months old

JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities have uncovered a group spreading hate speech and fake news online, one of many that they fear could undermine national unity.

Three people were arrested this week on suspicion of being part of a syndicate being paid to spread incendiary material online through social media, police said.

"If this is allowed to continue, it isn't just about violating the law but also has the potential to damage the unity of this country," said presidential spokesman Johan Budi.

Mr Budi said it was up to investigators to determine the motive of those behind the campaign, adding police should investigate the issue "right down to its roots".

National police spokesman Awi Setiyono said the material involved religious and ethnic issues and posts defamatory to government officials.

He declined to comment on the motive, saying investigators were still building their case and had yet to identify who was behind the syndicate, which calls itself Saracen.

The police cyber crime unit said dozens of Facebook and other social media accounts were being used to spread the material to an estimated 800,000 accounts.

Mr Setiyono said investigators had also uncovered money transfers of up to $5,000 to pay those spreading the material.