How an Indonesian ‘Zuccing’ campaign sparked mass panic

Thousands of Facebook meme groups went into lockdown amid rumors of a mass-reporting campaign by Indonesian trolls

Andrew Peng
May 17 · 3 min read
The Indonesian Reporting Commission’s logo

By Andrew Peng

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Several popular Facebook meme groups that were apparently targets of an Indonesian mass-reporting campaign earlier this week are now being restored, a spokesperson for the social media giant confirmed to The Yappie on Thursday.

Members of a secretive collective called the Indonesian Reporting Commission (IReC) allegedly infiltrated popular Facebook communities — including the 500,000 member-strong Crossovers Nobody Asked For (CNAF) — and successfully employed a tactic known as “zuccing.” Groups were filled with violent or pornographic content by IReC members before being mass reported, leading to their removal earlier this week.

“We removed several Groups from Facebook after detecting content that violated our policies,” the Facebook spokesperson told The Yappie. “We since discovered that this content was posted to sabotage legitimate, non-violating Groups. We’re working to restore any Groups affected and to prevent this from happening again.”

As news of CNAF’s deletion spread on Wednesday evening, thousands of Facebook groups bolstered their member screening procedures and switched their privacy settings to “secret” out of an abundance of caution (“Secret” groups are harder to find as they not appear in Facebook searches and are only accessible to current members). Several groups, including the 7,000-member LIGHT THE WARNING BEACONS OF GONDOR, A GREAT ZUCCENING IS UPON US!, also organized to document communities that had been deleted or suspended.

“Subtle Asian” communities, still reeling from Facebook’s accidental deletion of the 415,000-member Subtle Asian Dating (SAD) group in January, were especially driven to protect themselves. As of publishing time, major groups including Subtle Asian Mates and Subtle Queer Asian Dating remain secret — though others such as SAD, Subtle Asian Pets, Subtle Asian Eats, and Subtle Asian Tech have returned to their “closed” status.

According to several group administrators who spoke to The Yappie, more drastic measures such as suspending member approvals, archiving groups, and revoking access to all Facebook accounts from Indonesia were being considered.

Last month, Facebook unveiled a new app and website redesign to prioritize groups, with chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg telling reporters that “everywhere you can see and connect with friends, you’ll be able to see and connect with groups; it’s going to be woven into the fabric of Facebook.”

But the mass panic that ensued this week illustrates how vulnerable these private spaces are when Facebook’s own reporting features are abused, and demonstrates how fast misinformation can spread.

Facebook is under pressure from regulators around the globe to combat misinformation and abusive content, and Indonesia is estimated to be Facebook’s third largest market, with over a 100 million users, according to Reuters.

In January and April, the social media company removed hundreds of pages, accounts, and groups linked the Saracen Group, an online syndicate in Indonesia, for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook.”

Facebook previously told The Yappie that it was taking steps to increase transparency around its community standards. In April 2018, the social media giant published the internal enforcement guidelines used by its roughly 15,000 content reviewers and announced that it would expand its appeals process regarding content removed for nudity, sexual activity, and harassment — among other areas.

With additional editing from Alex Li and Sunwoo Park. Subscribe for free now.

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Andrew Peng

Written by

Politics, photography, and soup dumplings. Incoming editor at @theyappie.

The Yappie

A newsletter about Asian American power, politics, and influence — delivered every Sunday. Get early access: