The Malaysian government announced that it is filing a lawsuit against Meta Platforms for its purported failure to remove “undesirable” posts on the company’s popular social media platform Facebook.
Enforcing accountability: In a statement released Friday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission noted that it is pursuing legal action against the company to safeguard consumers and enforce accountability for cybersecurity.
Meta’s response, which has been sluggish and unsatisfactory, has not met the urgency of the matter and has led to increasing public concern and scrutiny. As there is no sufficient cooperation from Meta, MCMC has no option but to take definitive steps or legal action against Meta as a measure to ensure that people are secure and protected in the digital sphere.
Meta has reportedly refused to take down what the agency has deemed objectionable content despite repeated requests. The posts in question involve topics such as race, religion, defamation, impersonation, online gambling and scam advertisements.
Legal basis: According to the commission, allowing the abuse of network facilities or application services constitutes an offense under Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998.
Under the law, company officials who refuse to take immediate action can be charged with “willfully providing means and aiding criminal activity.” If found guilty, offenders may be penalized with a fine not exceeding 50,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approximately $10,690), imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both.
Curbing certain posts: The current administration under Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, which assumed power in November, has been vocal in its intent to curb what it considers inflammatory social media posts involving race and religion.
The government has attributed its stance to the recent heightened ethnic tensions in the country, where a majority Muslim ethnic Malay population co-exists alongside significant Chinese and Indian minorities.
Sensitive times: The statement comes just weeks before elections are held in six states, as the terms for those local governments expire this year.
Malaysia-based Centre for Independent Journalism reported in its hate speech-monitoring initiative last year that race-based topics dominated political discussions on social media during and after the previous election.
Anwar’s alliance, which includes a predominantly Chinese party, is facing off against a conservative Malay Muslim alliance advocating for a strict interpretation of Sharia in the upcoming election,