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ICC Note: The Saracen group in Indonesia has been spreading fake news and encouraging hate speech over the internet, targeting religious groups, mainly Muslim and Christian. They interacted with thousands of social media accounts to boost traffic to fake news sites. The two men and one woman of the group were arrested on Wednesday and could face four to seven years in prison.

08/24/2017 Indonesia (Nikkei Asian Review) – Indonesian police announced Wednesday the arrests of three members of the Saracen syndicate, they accuse of fomenting intolerance and spreading fake news over the internet.

Police said there is evidence to suggest the group profited by taking payments to raise particular issues online that were provocative or targeted certain religious or ethnic groups.

Mohammad Fadil Imran, the police director for cybercrimes, declined to reveal the identities of possible paymasters as investigations are still underway. He said a new police cyber task force detected “systematic” dissemination of hate speech and fake news over the internet that targeted religious groups, mainly Muslim and Christian. Indonesians of Chinese ancestry and the government were also attacked.

Imran described Saracen as “well structured” and capable of coordinating its activities from different locales. He said the group interacted with up to 800,000 social media accounts — some fake and some hacked — boosting traffic to fake news sites and generating income from online advertising.

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