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Provetic Newsletter December 2014

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Page 1: Provetic Newsletter December 2014

Newsletter — December 2014


Page 2: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


Dear Valued Clients,

In our last newsletter, we highlight insights gained

from social media as a window to glimpse the lives

of Indonesians through conversations spanning from

the most mundane individual concerns to the

collective and more pressing public issues.

This month, we try to highlight another use of social

media as a medium that captures public reaction to

government policy. We believe that social

media conversations can give access to immediate

and organic responses from the public by tracking

the nuances of public arguments as they are related

to certain government decision.

Further analysis can also reveal the amplitude of

people’s reaction towards certain decision or policy,

the rationale behind the public’s arguments, and the

impact of internal and external factors in influencing

the public opinion—all of which would give valuable

input for policy makers and stakeholders.

This November, with the government introducing

new prices for subsidized fuels, provides a valuable

opportunity for us to conduct and present to you the

analysis that highlight these concerns.

We hope that you would enjoy this issue and gain

valuable insights from our analysis.

Best Regards,

Iwan Setyawan, CEO


EDITORIAL TEAM Board of Advisors

Iwan Setyawan, Roby Muhamad,

Shafiq Pontoh, Budhi Sumarso

Managing Editor

Smita Sjahputri

[email protected]

Jl. Kerinci 1 no. 2, Kebayoran Baru

Jakarta Selatan 12120

T: +6221 72799613

F: +6221 72799613


Page 3: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


In the previous edition of Provetic Newsletter

we focused on social media conversations

related to issues that the Indonesian public is

mostly concerned about. We discovered that the

issues related to fuel prices were one of the

most discussed on Twitter.

Last November, just a month after the

presidential inauguration of Joko Widodo, the

new government announced new prices of

subsidized fuel. The announcement, which was

delivered on Monday, 17th of November 2014

at 09.00 PM and to be made valid immediately

as of 00.00 AM the next day, was one of the first

big economic moves taken by the Indonesian

government under the new president.

The decision resulted in the increase of prices

for subsidized Premium gasoline from IDR 6,500

per liter to IDR 8,500; and also Diesel fuel from

IDR 5,500 to IDR 7,500 per liter.

In his speech during the fuel price increase

announcement, President Joko Widodo

mentioned that the decision was necessary

in order to save the country’s economy by

more than 100 trillion Rupiah, funds that can

be reallocated to boost more productive areas,

such as infrastructure and welfare.

Although the issue of cutting off subsidized fuel

is nothing new for the Indonesian public, the

decision has been known to be unpopular,

always stirring up much controversy and

polarized responses. Especially since the

increase in fuel prices would subsequently

result in the price increase for other basic

commoditie especially for those with lower

spending power.

Social media has been the new go-to place for

many Indonesians to voice out their reactions be

it of support or disagreement about government

policies. Hence, for this month, we decide to

explore social media conversations related to

fuel pricing.

We believe that this analysis can be used as a

case study to map out public reactions to

government decision. The analysis would not

only give immediate understanding about

people's responses on the specific issue of fuel

price increase but can also be used as a

benchmark for public reactions and acceptance

level of government policies and decisions in the




Page 4: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


The decision to raise the prices for subsidized

fuels by the new Indonesian government

under the President Joko Widodo elicited

rather strong and heavily polarized reactions.

Social media recorded a ten-fold increase in

conversation regarding “Fuels” the day

following the fuel price increase

announcement, however the conversation

level quickly dropped off the next day.

People’s opinion in social media is almost

evenly divided, with statements of support

slightly more in proportion than the opposing


Content analysis of the arguments in support

of the fuel price increase indicated that some

people trust the government’s reasoning and

planning behind the decision.

Meanwhile, those opposed to the decision are

basing their arguments on the stance that fuel

price increase would hurt the underpriviledge

and the poor.

Although news media and social media

influencers have proven to hold certain power

in shaping people’s opinion, however, internal

factors such as value systems and moral

foundations that people hold will also have a

huge influence in people’s evaluation

and reaction over this issue.

We found that the main value system people

use in evaluating the fuel price increase are

security, benevolence, and tradition. This issue

is also being morally evaluated using the

judgement of how it would affect people’s


Different value systems resulted in different

public evaluations and reactions. Those who

value security might be more likely to reject

the decision, while those who value social

harmony might be more likely to accept the



Page 5: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


Public’s immediate reaction

was overwhelming, but the

heated discussion appears to

be short-lived

The issue about price increase as

a result of the budget cutting for

subsidized fuels has been one of

the most anticipated decisions by

the new government under

President Joko Widodo. With the

announcement being delivered

last November, Provetic tracked

the social media converation to

unravel public reaction to the


Chart I — Daily buzz of

conversation regarding “Fuel”

continues to the next day when

new prices took effect, in which

Twitter recorded more than

400,000 tweets posted regarding

the issue.

Interestingly, the high level of

conversation does not appear to

have lasted very long. Two days

after the announcement, the

conversation level had dropped

significantly, to around 140,000

tweets. Although this number is

still higher than the baseline

average of daily conversations

before the price increase, the

immediate drop in conversation

level may signal that the

announcement did not cause

prolonged controversy as intially


People’s interest in the subject

regarding fuel prices has been

increasing in the days approaching

the announcement of the new

prices for subsidized fuels. This

trend was observable when we

look into the steady increment of

daily conversation level recorded

on Twitter, starting at from the day

of President Joko Widodo’s

inauguration all the way to the day

before the announcement.

The anticipation regarding the

announcement appears to have

built up a huge momentum which

was translated into an extreme

peak in the conversation. On the

day of the announcement,

conversation level had increased

ten-fold in numbers, compared to

the daily average on the weeks

prior to it, amounting to more than

200,000 tweets. The momentum

Day of Presidential


Announcement of

New Fuel Prices

Conversations regarding Fuel

Prices contributed to 45% the

total Fuel conversation, making

it the most discussed topic,

ahead of topics on fuel

shortage and distribution

N = 1,965,235 tweets

Page 6: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


People are divided on the

issue, but with some

indication that support the

decision of fuel price increase

As expected of such an

“unpopular” policy such as fuel

price increase, Indonesian's

reactions to this is very much

divided. The decision is deemed

as the first “test” for Jokowi as

the President of the People, which

is reflected by corresponding

heated arguments in social media


Interestingly, the data show that

the arguments are divided very

evenly with some indication that

the supporting stance for this

decision is winning although by a

very small gap.

Futher analysis of the arguments

supporting the decision for fuel

price increase indicate that people

are buying into the government's

reasoning behind the budget cut

for subsidized fuels, which is to

reallocate the funds into more

productive areas such as building

infrastructures, welfare programs,

as well as to revitalize the fiscal

economy. This is an encouraging

outlook, indicating the high level of

trust and support given by the

people to the new government.

In contrast, the arguments against

fuel price increases mostly

mention concerns that this

decision is unfair and a burden for

the less priviledged or “Rakyat

Kecil”. Other concerns being

voiced out are increases in other

commodity prices also the cost of

transportation, which is also a

major public concern that we

discovered in previous analysis.

Some also state an opposing

stance against the decision

because they feel that the

reasoning and arguments behind

the decision to increase fuel price

is rather vague and there might be

some undesirable effects to the

decision that have not yet been

taken into accounted for.

Interestingly, tweets that

openly stated their stance in

support or against the govern-

ment decision to increase fuel

prices mostly contain links to

news articles or quotes from

Chart III— Top Hashtags in

the conversation regarding “Fuel”

several prominent figures such as

politicians and political parties,

economic and oil industry experts,

as well as social media influencers.

This might indicate that when

people declare their stance on a

complex and controversial

government policy, they need to

have their arguments backed by

information from sources they

deem credible.

People also appear to use specific

hashtags in labelling their stance,

such as the hashtag #jokowihebat,

to indicate support for Jokowi and

of his brave move. However,

looking at other popular hashtags

used, it appears that people who

are against the decision show

more coordinated "attacks",

especially by spinning Jokowi’s

popular campaign slogans and a

hashtag previously used as an

attack for the former president

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono into

#salamgigitjari and


N = 87,389 tweets


Chart II— Proportion of tweets in

support and against the fuel price increase

Page 7: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


Media helps people in

supporting their argument,

but it might not be the main

influencing factor

mention these accounts. People are

generating their own arguments —

which may or may not be

influenced by external influence —

in response to the decision.

So what else is at play here? To

understand people’s reactions, it is

also important to view their

evaluation in terms of what are the

things that people value as

important as well as the dimension

in which they base their judgement

over a certain event to be accepted

as right and acceptable, or


In the conversation regarding fuel

price increase, the number of

tweets that directly linked or

embedded news media articles

apparently only accounts for less

than 10% of the total conversation.

Furthermore, we found that social

media influencers such as

individual accounts of @kurawa,

@fadjroel, and @sujiwotedjo, or the

“anonymous” or group accounts

such as @partaisocmed have

relatively more influence, because

in total, these accounts are being

quoted more than the online media

accounts. Prominent political

figures such as @jokowi_do2,

@yusrilihza_mhd, and

@sbyudhoyono are also having

more impact in the general public

conversation than the media.

However, the direct influence of

the messages conveyed by these

accounts is relatively small in

numbers because most of the

tweets regarding the fuel price

increase do not explicitly quote or

Public opinion can be influenced

by several factors, with

mainstream media having most

power to sway public

arguments. However, in social

media, prominent individuals, or

usually referred to

as “influencers” might also

have considerable force in

shaping the public opinion.

Moreover, we believe that apart

from these external forces,

people’s evaluation might also

be influenced by the values and

moral foundations that they

already have.

Top Most Mentioned

News Media Accounts

@detikcom | 19,335 tweets

@kompascom | 15,239 tweets

@metro_tv | 10,524 tweets

Top Most Mentioned Political

Figures and Social Media

Influencer Accounts

@jokowi_do2 | 10,199 tweets

@yusrilihza_mhd | 6,937 tweets

@kurawa | 6,878 tweets

Page 8: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


well as day-to-day expenditure.

This is especially obvious in the

arguments of people who are

against the decision to increase

the fuel prices. With the fuel prices

increase usually leads to increase

in the prices of other commodities

as well as transportation costs,

they might feel that the decision is

wrong or unacceptable because it

is taking away some of their

freedom of choice as now they

have to reevaluate their financial


by the important things they

values. Within the conversation

regarding the fuel price increase,

three of the most prominent values

are: security, benevolence, and


In our analysis, those who are

against the decision to fuel prices

increase appears to put security in

higher level of importance, as they

put more emphasis in seeking

safety and ensuring the security of

the society. This is reflected in how

they put forward the arguments

that the fuel price increase would

be harmful for the people,

especially the poor and less

fortunate. The uncertainty of other

possible undesirable effects that

might occur as a result of the fuel

price increase would also threaten

their security, hence, making these

people more likely to be opposing

the decision.

In contrast, looking into the

arguments of those people who are

supporting the decision, it appears

that they belief that, instead of

bringing harm, reallocating the

fund would bring greater good to

the society. This argument reflect

people who values harmony and

contributing to general welfare as

of higher importance.

Interestingly, people also evaluate

this decision in terms of how this

part of “tradition” — especially

because this decision, albeit

unpopular, has always been a

move made by the government. As

some people appear to have

already anticipating this move by

the new government as something

that must be done and has been

done several times, this might

explain why the heated discussion

appears to be short-lived.

Understanding the internal

forces that shapes people’s

opinion: The role of values

and moral judgements

Apart from identifying the

foundation of moral judgement in

which people formed the

evaluation of “rightness” of certain

issue, arguments are also shaped

People’s attitudes and behaviors

toward certain issues are mainly

influenced by specific motivational

basis that are directed by the

values system and moral

judgements that they hold. By

identifying these underlying

themes from the arguments of the

people in social media, it would

help us in differentiating the

evaluation of those who are in

support or against the decision

and understanding the rationale

behind their arguments.

In our analysis, we found that the

issue of fuel increase prices are

mainly being judged in terms of

how this decision might be

impacting people’s freedom,

especially because fuel prices

increase might result in

constriction of spending power as

In general, most people on

social media evaluate the

government’s decision to

increase fuel price under three

main values system: security,

benevolence, and tradition

Page 9: Provetic Newsletter December 2014


One of our main objectives is to

highlight the utilization of social

media conversations to capture

public reactions to government

decisions and public policies.

Following the announcement of

fuel price increase, people are

taken to social media to express

their thoughts and worries

regarding the decision.

Interestingly, there was a

considerable amount of support

being expressed on social media

—which is rather surprising, as

the unpopular decision has

been known to evoke strong

rejection from the public.

The level of aggreement and

acceptance from the public as

expressed on Twitter can be

used as one of the benchmarks

to indicate the level of trust that

people have on the government

and its policies. Content analysis

of the tweets that express

support for the decision can

also be utilized to understand

the nature of arguments and

would not hurt the people

The last analysis highlights the

need to understand the forces

that shape public opinion.

External forces such as

influence from news media

coverage and opinions of

prominent social media figures

(influencers) might play

significant role. Most important

is to identify the internal factors

of the value systems and moral

foundations that people hold,

which would highly influence

their evaluation process and

attitude towards certain issues.

Understanding the content and

recurring theme within social

media conversation would

provide an important basis for

policy makers and stakeholders

to construct the best public

communication strategies for

conveying government policies



© December 2014 — Provetic

Photo Credits:

Cover Photo by Basibanget

1. “Senggigi Port In 1225 Seconds” by Blek

2. “Depok Bus Station 2” by Danumurthi Mahendra

3. “Fuel” by Meaduva

4. “Motor-cab Drivers Queue” by Danumurthi Mahendra

All rights reserved under Creative Commons Liscense

rationale behind the support. In

this case, we found that content

analysis futher confirms the

notion that people have

relatively high level of trust

towards Jokowi and the new

government, as they quickly

endorse the reasoning and plan

behind the decision presented

by government officials .

However, it is also important to

understand the opposing point

of view, as this would be

beneficial for policy makers to

understand the main concerns

of people and address them so

as to minimize further


In the case of fuel price

increase, it was observed that

the old argument that this

decision would hurt the poor

and underpriviledged is still

being used persistently. This

might suggest that the new

government has to prove to

the people that the decision was

necessary, well thought-out, and