[PRESS RELEASE] My Idol Is Always Right: Free Opinions in Online Fandom Culture | Diffusion #74

June 13, 2022 1:54 pm || By

Youtube, June 2, 2022–In this digital era, almost everyone actively uses social media platforms. One of them is the Twitter platform, a service that can facilitate fast and frequent communication. Its ease as a platform to convey information makes Twitter actively used as an online gathering place. Users can share their aspirations and opinions to form an online community. One form of Twitter’s online community is fandom, a place for fans to gather, express opinions, and share fun when discussing their hobbies. To respond to this phenomenon, CfDS held Diffusion #74 with the theme My Idol is Always Right: Free Opinions in Online Fandom Culture with speakers Jasmine Putri and Irnasya Shafira as CfDS UGM Researchers. Smart people can access the event through the CfDS Youtube channel.

Freedom of Expression Online in the Perspective of Fandom

Jasmine Putri started the discussion by explaining the dilemma in conveying freedom of speech online on social media platforms. For example, she looked at the regulations on Twitter regarding expressing opinions for users, and the platform has:

  1. A policy of derogatory behaviour, which means it is considered to silence the views of other users.
  2. Hateful behaviour policy, i.e. the prohibition of attacking or threatening other users.
  3. The threat of violence policy is a prohibition threatening violence or glorifying its use.

But in fact, Twitter policies are often ignored or even misused.

The phenomenon of Twitter stan, according to Jasmine, often leads to retaliation of opinions such as:

– doxxing (spreading personal information without permission),
– cyberbullying (aggressive behaviour of a group/individual repeatedly in groups/individuals who are considered unable to fight), or
– to abuse Twitter features with mass reports & blocks (users simultaneously reporting and blocking a user to harm that user). Those behaviours above made the expressing opinion on social media limited and unsafe for users. Jasmine said the Indonesian Political Indicators survey showed 62.9% of the Indonesian people were increasingly afraid of having an opinion, with the retaliation of thought as one of the causes.

Jasmine also said, “The phenomenon of Twitter stan and the retaliation of opinions has resulted in the misuse of platform regulations to silence public opinion. Seeing the phenomenon that often occurs in social media shows the need for transformation in how social media users can respond to other people’s opinions in cyberspace. It takes a concerted effort to create an online space that is democratic and upholds freedom of expression for all people.”

Understanding Fandom War Sentiment

Irnasya Shafira continued the discussion by reviewing the Safa Space case. Safa Space is a feud (18/05/22) involving fellow NCT kpop fans, so it has become a trending topic on Twitter. Irnasya studied the case by emphasizing three main points: fandom, stan culture, and parasocial relations. Irnasya explained that the incident was carried out by a fandom, a community that enjoys public figures who practice stan culture. Stan culture is an online phenomenon when a stalker fan (stan) is too enthusiastic about supporting idols. They often take coordinated action against individuals who criticize their idols. Irnasya assessed that a critical trigger for the stan culture is parasocial behaviour. An interaction with idols through online media that psychologically feels close to the public figure, even to the point of having a ‘relationship’ even though it is one-sided.

Irnasya said that Safa and Berflower’s behaviour showed excessive parasocial demeanour. This was followed by unreasonable manners, such as going to the police for insulting his idol. The case also showed how the boundaries between strong opinions and hate speech were grey. Irnasya said that avoiding this incident was always understanding and applying ethics in social media. Also, to think critically when consuming any media. Finally, she also emphasized users to avoid excessive parasocial behaviour, “As fans, we should set limits on idolizing a public figure. By consuming less content of an idol’s personal life, we will see only the achievements and avoid parasocial behaviour. We also need to avoid being easily offended and create a healthy & fun environment for fellow fans/fandom.”

Author: Dea Arum Komala
Editor: Firya Qurratu’ain Abisono