PETALING JAYA: Administrators of WhatsApp groups may face legal action for failing to stop the spread of false information but investigations are based on complaints, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
It said that while conversations in messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber and Telegram, are private, an investigation can be conducted to look into any offending comment if a complaint is made.
“Investigations will only be conducted if there are complaints made regarding the content shared within these groups.
“Therefore, members of the public, whether they are group administrators or members, should be careful when spreading information so that it does not become a case of spreading false information,” the commission said in a statement on its Facebook page on Friday.
The MCMC said that the spreading of false information is an offence under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).
It stressed that any investigation it conducts will not differentiate between group administrators and members.
“If the group administrator or any member is found to have spread false information, then legal action can be taken against them,” it said.
The MCMC said that group administrators would be held responsible if they make a comment, request, suggestion or other communication that is obscene, offensive, false, threatening or irritating with the intention to hurt, abuse, threaten or harass others.
Furthermore, they will also be held accountable if they ask for such comments from other members in the group, as well as if they incite any other person in the group to make such comments.
It also said that any group administrator who obstructs an investigation by any enforcement agency will also be culpable.
“On these matter, MCMC will consider the need to establish guidelines on the usage of messaging applications and the like.
“At the same time, the public is urged to always be prudent when using social media for their own good,” the commission said.
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Jailani Johari was reported on Thursday as saying that provisions under the CMA allowed for WhatsApp group administrators to face legal action for failing to stop the spread of false information in their groups.