PETALING JAYA: Blocking Facebook is not only bad but also dangerous for Malaysia, say new media experts.
Facebook has become important for work and business, said David Lian, general manager of global social communications agency Zeno Malaysia.
“It is a platform for communication. It is up to the users to use it for good or bad,” he said. “More importantly, it allows Malaysians to participate in the global dialogue.”
Technology is here to stay, especially social media, and banning it is not the answer, he said.
“The challenge is to understand what new technology allows us to do as far as reaching each other and ensuring legislation allows enforcement and action against illegal behaviour through the appropriate systems.”
Technopreneur Hardesh Singh said blocking Facebook would impact productivity.
“As we become more mobile in our work routine, we increasingly rely on social networks for our daily touchpoints,” he said.
“These include scheduling our daily routines, transacting in e-commerce and interfacing with employers and clients,” said the PopDigital founder.
Digital News Asia executive editor A. Asohan believed that cutting out Facebook would blunt Malaysia’s competitive edge.
“Many businesses — both local and multinationals — use Facebook, whether for corporate communications or to run marketing campaigns,” he said.
“It is integral to their business, and their operations.
“Technology start-ups that have been established in the last three or four years not only depend on Facebook for business, but their business is social media.”
A number of countries have restricted access to the site.
Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iran, Mauritius, Morocco, North Korea, Russia, Syria and Tajikistan have reportedly interfered with or banned access to it.
Thailand is the latest country to block Facebook in May in an effort to curb unrest.
Surprisingly, the United Kingdom also acted against Facebook users.
On April 28, 2011, the day before the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, a number of politically-motivated Facebook groups and pages were removed or suspended as part of a crackdown on political activity.
There are about 15 million Facebook users in Malaysia.
Without Facebook, copywriter Ong Kay Jen, 22, would lose a big source of information.
“I’d be lost on current events. Most of the news I hear is just the interesting bits that Facebook picks up,” Ong said.
For Azlyn Balqis, who works as a content editor for a radio station, a Facebook ban would affect interaction with their online audience.
“But I reckon it wouldn’t change much as there are other growing social media platforms we could still use,” she said.