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Malaysia to Take Legal Action Against Meta for Failing to Remove Harmful Content

Updated: Jan 3

[Edited] Malaysia has announced its intention to pursue legal action against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, for its failure to remove "undesirable" posts.

Credit: Getty Images via Forbes

This marks the strongest measure taken by the country thus far to address such content.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's administration has made it a priority to address what they deem as provocative posts related to race and religion since coming into power in November. The closely contested election in Malaysia has led to increased ethnic tensions, prompting the government to take action.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission stated that Facebook has been plagued by a significant volume of undesirable content, including posts related to race, royalty, religion, defamation, impersonation, online gambling, and scam advertisements. Despite repeated requests, Meta has not taken sufficient action, leading to the necessity of legal action to promote cybersecurity accountability and protect consumers.

Meta has not responded to requests for comment regarding the situation. When asked about the potential legal action, the commission stated that allowing the abuse of network facilities or application services can be considered offenses under Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. The law also allows for charges to be brought against company officials if they are found to have willfully provided means and aided criminal activity by not taking prompt action.

Race and religion are sensitive topics in Malaysia, where the majority of the population consists of Muslim ethnic Malays, alongside significant Chinese and Indian minorities. Criticism of the country's revered royals is also a delicate matter, as negative remarks can be tried under sedition laws.

The timing of the action against Facebook is significant, as it comes just weeks before elections in six states. These elections are expected to pit Anwar's multi-ethnic coalition against a conservative Malay Muslim alliance.

Facebook is the largest social media platform in Malaysia, with an estimated 60% of the country's 33 million people having registered accounts.

Globally, major social media companies, including Meta, Google's YouTube, and TikTok, often face regulatory scrutiny over the content posted on their platforms. Southeast Asian governments have frequently requested the removal of certain content.

In 2020, Vietnam threatened to shut down Facebook in the country if it did not comply with government demands to censor more local political content. The Vietnamese government reported that social media platforms operating in Vietnam had removed over 3,200 posts and videos in the first quarter of the year for containing false information and violating the country's laws.

In Indonesia, Facebook took action in 2019 by removing hundreds of local accounts, pages, and groups linked to a fake news syndicate.

  • Malaysia is taking legal action against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, for its failure to remove "undesirable" posts.

  • The government aims to address provocative posts related to race and religion.

  • Facebook has been plagued by a significant volume of undesirable content, including posts on various sensitive topics.


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