It has taken a “conservative political and communications strategist” to catch the imagination of netizens during the current diplomatic standoff between Australia and Indonesia over spying revelations. Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has tweeted to protest phone tapping by Australia's Defence Signals Directorate, which included his and his wife's phones in 2009:
I also regret the statement of Australian Prime Minister that belittled this tapping matter on Indonesia, without any remorse. *SBY*
— S. B. Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) November 19, 2013
The revelations are contained in a series of Powerpoint slides. This one lists the targets of the phone tapping:
On 20 November 2013 Mark Textor, pollster and political tactician for Australia’s ruling Liberal Party, experienced one of those twitter moments: ‘Apology demanded from Australia by a bloke who looks like a 1970s Pilipino porn star and has ethics to match’. [The misspelling is his own.] It was an apparent reference to the Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa.
His deletion of the offending tweet did not save Textor from embarrassment:
— Stephanie Rice (@stephrice88) November 20, 2013
His deletion was followed by an a denial and apology of sorts.
His twitter apology served to focus attention on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s refusal to apologise because he will not discuss national security matters:
Apologies to my Indonesian friends – frustrated by media-driven divisions – Twitter is indeed no place for diplomacy.
— Mark Textor (@markatextor) November 21, 2013
— Maybe (@Maybeee2011) November 21, 2013
Tweets also captured the humour of the moment:
— Arthur Gordon Pym (@arthur_gordon_p) November 21, 2013
Textor has deleted his twitter account, apparently because of death threats but Vermeera has sounded a cynical note:
— Vermeera (@Vermeera) November 23, 2013
Inevitably it has been replaced by fake accounts:
— Drag0nista (@Drag0nista) November 23, 2013
It seems that we now have #Textor’s Law: the most social media savvy spin doctors are only 140 characters away from their inevitable brain snap. It has something to do with wishing you could eat your words.
SBY has suspended military and intelligence cooperation with Australia and cooperation on people smugglers. Meanwhile, a small crowd of protestors in Jakarta has burned Australian flags.
After the leaks by Edward Snowden, Australian security agencies must be wondering about the wisdom of sharing with the United States the Powerpoint about spying on the Indonesian government.
Update: Carolina has a Global Voices post on the online reactions from Indonesian netizens: Indonesia-Australia Diplomatic Tension Escalates Over Wiretapping