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PAY PHONES

In Indonesia, anyone with more than 2,000 Twitter followers can get paid $21 a tweet to advertise

AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana
Traffic jams, ubiquitous cellular phones and a celebrity-obsessed culture have made Jakarta the most Twitter-crazy city on the planet.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Jakarta, Indonesia is the “world’s tweet capital,” reports Reuters, where anyone with more than 2,000 followers can get paid at least $21 to tweet during rush hour, when most Indonesians are stuck in traffic and (apparently) glued to their mobiles.

For Westerners, it’s easy to miss just how big Twitter has become in Indonesia; 36% of Americans are on Twitter, but 64% of Indonesians are. Correction: The following chart depicts the proportion of iPhone users who are on Twitter, not the proportion of Twitter users among Indonesia’s entire population. The actual figure is about 19%. Quartz regrets the error.

One reason Twitter is so popular is it’s easily accessible on the kind of cheap phones that are widely available in Indonesia. Indeed, there’s an inverse relationship in countries between iPhone penetration and Twitter uptake.

Update: Here’s a graph showing actual penetration of Twitter by country.

Twitter marketing of the kind that’s popular in Indonesia would be illegal in the US, where the US Federal Trade Commission demands that everyone—even bloggers—disclose when they’re being paid to say something. In Indonesia, however, this sort of thing is so common that comedian Ernest Prakasa is open about the fact that he charges brands seven million rupiah ($670) for a package of 10 promotional tweets.

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