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Indonesian government bans LGBT emojis and asks Facebook and WhatsApp to respect local culture

The indonesian government is to ask the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp to remove any emojis that are related to LGBT in respect of local religious and cultural beliefs.

According to a post on local news site Republika, the head of public relations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Kemenkominfo), Ismail Cawidu, said the government would take the lead from Japanese messaging app Line, which recently removed LGBT stickers from its app.

According to Line, it removed the ability to post LGBT stickers from its service because it received complaints from users.

“That's not allowed in Indonesia. So we will soon be called on both sides to eliminate them. All [social media platforms] may not show items that [are] LGBT. Because we have own rules, such as religious values ​​and norms, they must obey," he said.

Messaging apps are one of the dominant forms of communication in Asian markets, with each country having different apps as the front-runners. Apps like WhatsApp, that originated in western markets, are starting to take dominance in some countries, which will help western brands reach new audiences and customers in Asia. However, this move will remind brands and platforms that cross-border scale can create friction.

It is not yet known whether Facebook or WhatsApp will respond by eliminating the LGBT emojis.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte