Unfortunately, the internet is not a free place everywhere and is under heavy censorship by some governments, leading to some (perfectly legal) websites being banned in certain countries. Reddit has been banned in Indonesia for example since 2013, meaning it’s impossible to visit the popular website – even if you’re a tourist.
So if you try to visit from Indonesia, Reddit isn’t just down, it was deliberately blocked by the government.
Let’s take a look at exactly why the Indonesian government has decided to ban Reddit from their country, and whether or not their claims are actually valid.
Why is Reddit Banned in Indonesia?
The Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Kemkominfo) proposed a law to increase its grasp on online content in an attempt to make the internet more ‘healthy’.
In the country, this is known as the “internet sehat dan aman” program. Simply put, they want to socialize the use of the internet and oppose healthy internet etiquette. Sometimes you’ll see the abbreviation “INSAN” pop up for this law.
They even promoted the program across various platforms, including print media and real-life offline marketing.
Some residents think it’s a good idea to restrict access to some websites, while others believe that this is just a pure form of censorship.
The general consensus is that censorship is hardly the ideal solution, especially for social platforms that the western world basically couldn’t live without.
Types of Internet Content That Are Not Allowed In Indonesia
The healthy internet program by the Indonesian government blocks every type of social media which may contain explicit (adult) content or any type of content that can potentially harm children.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Adult (18+) images and videos
- Anything related to violence
- Anything related to gambling or online casinos
- Approval and/or incitement of hate and aggression
- Any type of discrimination or degradation of people (for example, hate or harsh comments towards handicapped people or people of color)
- Content that contains threats of violence
- Malware, phishing, or hacking-related tools
- False information
- Publishing private information (doxxing)
These are all very fair points that the Indonesian government makes and there is surely no place for this on the world wide web, but many Indonesian citizens agree that the measures they take are simply too harsh.
Blocking entire websites such as Reddit because some people can post distasteful content isn’t exactly a solution.
After all, which websites wouldn’t have to be blocked if that was the case?
The stricter internet regulations in the country started in 2008 with another popular website, YouTube.
YouTube, owned by Google, refused to remove a certain video on the platform where the Islamic prophet was being mocked.
The team at YouTube believed that free speech should be protected on their platform, and refused to remove the video from the site.
That’s when the Indonesian government decided to block YouTube altogether, one of the most popular websites in the world.
It didn’t take long before the INSAN law passed in the country and they now had a legal basis to repeat the blocking of websites.
At first, the Indonesian government set its sights on individual posters instead of the platforms (such as websites, blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets…) with punishments of up to six years imprisonment and incredibly hefty fines.
Fast forward a couple of years, however, and you can no longer access Reddit in the country, thanks to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
Reddit contains adult and sexually explicit materials, which are prohibited under the healthy internet act.
While this is technically true (there are a bunch of NSFW subreddits on Reddit and they are allowed to exist), the majority of Reddit consists of normal posts.
However, there is an option to turn all NSFW posts off, so you could perfectly browse a family-friendly version of Reddit if you wanted to.
Understandably, this ban did create some outrage amongst Indonesian citizens.
Some parents were really happy that the government made it a lot harder to find explicit content – but there were more negative voices than positive ones.
After all – if you really want to search for explicit content online, it’s just a Google search away, and Indonesia can’t exactly ban all search engines from the internet. So why does Reddit have to fall victim to this law?
It’s not just Reddit that has been blocked, by the way. Platforms such as Imgur and Vimeo also followed.
What Happens When You Try To Visit Reddit From Indonesia?
Well, simply put, there’s a lot that does happen. You’ll see a standard message by the official Indonesian government agency responsible for this act (in Indonesian).
It then simply states that the website or the social network that you’re trying to access has been blocked as it may contain content such as pornography, anything related to hacking, gambling, or hate-approving content.
The error page even says that there’s an appeal procedure. If you don’t agree with the decision made by Kemkominfo, you can contact them.
However, people in Indonesia generally recommend that you don’t appeal decisions like these.
It likely won’t make a difference anyway, and even worse, it could lead to the government questioning or investigating your internet behavior, with a possible fine as a result.
Is There Anything You Can Do To Bypass The Reddit Block In Indonesia?
The only way to visit Reddit in Indonesia safely is by using a VPN. Preferably, you’d have to choose a VPN service that doesn’t maintain logs that can be accessed by the government.
A VPN, short for a virtual private network, encrypts all your internet traffic through a server in a different country.
That way, you could simply surf the internet as if you were in the United States where Reddit is not blocked, for example.
While we do believe that there are some good intentions and it’s a noble idea to make the internet a healthier place, censoring entire platforms is a solution that is way too harsh and too ineffective.
While Reddit can be a toxic and mean place sometimes, completely prohibiting access to one of the largest sites on the planet is a bit much.
The concerns about censorship are definitely valid. There is also a handful of other countries where Reddit is banned for similar reasons, you can check out the full list of countries that banned Reddit over here.
Why is Indonesia blocking access to Reddit? Because the platform can contain elements of gambling, adult content, or violence. There are numerous NSFW subreddits on the website, which is likely the main reason why the Indonesian government decided to block the whole site altogether. You can circumvent the Reddit ban by using a good VPN service that encrypts your internet traffic.