Indonesia may have the highest number of Facebook users in Asia, but the Internet needs to be used for more than just cheap sensation and navel-gazing, an official said on Wednesday.
There were 38.6 million Facebook users in the country as of last December, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. It was just shy of the 39.7 million people it said had access to the Internet.
More recent statistics from independent analysts put the country’s current Facebook population at 40.8 million.
Ministry official Freddy Tulung said that although the high figure was “a positive thing,” Internet use in the country needed to be directed toward more substantial purposes.
“Are we willing to just keep using Facebook as a platform for cheap thrills and narcissism?” he said. “We want people to make much broader use of the Internet, which is about more than just chatting.”
In addition to having the second-biggest Facebook population on the planet, behind only the United States, Indonesia is also the No. 3 source for all tweets on Twitter, after the United States and Brazil.
A Nielsen report earlier this year found that 48 percent of the country’s Internet users accessed the Web through their cellphones, with almost 90 percent of tweets sent from mobile devices.
A business lobby, however, said more needed to be done to clear up the 3G cellular spectrum to improve mobile Internet access and services.
Mas Wigrantoro Roes Setiadi, from the Indonesian Telematics Community, urged the ministry to pass a long-awaited regulation on tidying up the 3G spectrum.
The regulation would require Telkomsel, the country’s biggest cellular operator, to shift its spectrum to line up more neatly with other operators.
The ministry has given Telkomsel until the end of the year to comply.