Government surveillance disclosures, bilateral trust and Indonesia-Australia cross-border security cooperation: Social network analysis of Twitter data
Trust/distrust in the citizens of a foreign country may affect the nation's strategic decisions to continue/discontinue security cooperation with the foreign country. This paper employs Twitter data to examine the impact of government surveillance disclosures on bilateral trust and international security cooperation. This study demonstrates the impact of social media on possible trust and security cooperation between two countries. Social network analysis method captures emergent patterns of bilateral trust-related communications. In the aftermath of the disclosures on Australia's secret surveillance of Indonesian government leaders, Indonesian citizens used Twittersphere via #ganyangaustralia ("Crush Australia") to mobilize online political activism against Australia for its perceived injustice and lack of transparency in security policy. Our social network analysis of Twitter data shows evidence that citizens' distrust could affect bilateral security cooperation negatively. Unilaterally, Indonesia decided to halt Indonesia-Australia cross-border security cooperation. More generally, we highlight the need for new citizen-centric e-governance mechanisms for open and transparent international communications on government surveillance policies to safeguard the potential fragility of bilateral trust, when cross-border security cooperation generates discernible mutual benefits.