M’sians okay with social media ban during crisis

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 12 Sep 2019

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are seemingly receptive to a blanket ban on social media during a crisis or a terrorist attack as they believe this stops the spread of misinformation, according to a global survey of 27 countries.

And Malaysians also seem to trust the government to shut down these social media channels.

Three out of four Malaysians, or 75%, support temporary social media bans, with the country ranked second behind India (88%) in the survey conducted a month after the coordinated and fatal terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in April.

Other countries that are also in favour of a temporary ban on social media are Saudi Arabia (73%), China (72%) and Britain (69%).

Globally, the survey of nearly 20,000 people by independent market research firm Ipsos found that 60% favour a social media ban in the circumstances mentioned.

However, when the Malaysian respondents were asked if they agreed with the statement, “I think that most people are capable of separating fact from fiction, so I would not support a temporary social media ban”, 54% said they agreed.

The global survey also found that 74% of Malaysians trusted the government to decide when and if it’s appropriate to shut down social media platforms to stop the spread of fake news in times of crisis, with India (80%) and Saudi Arabia (75%) ranked higher in this aspect.

Almost two-thirds of Malaysians (69%) also think social media bans are futile as there are many ways to navigate around them, while Malaysians agree that they trust social media companies to ensure the content shared on their platforms during times of crisis is factual.

Globally, 51% of the citizens polled do not trust social media companies to ensure factuality of content on their platform.

“Today’s world is heavily reliant on social media for news and information.

“Social media has played a big role in the rise of fake news and spreading rumours, ” said Arun Menon, managing director of Ipsos in Malaysia, in a press release.

“Lack of accountability and absence of thorough measures by social media companies to weed out fake content will prompt the public to trust governments to step in with regulations, ” he added.

The survey was conducted online between May 24 and June 7, with over 1,000 individuals participating on a country-by-country basis.

The Malaysian sample surveyed was considered to be more urban and educated with higher incomes than their fellow citizens, and were considered to be not nationally representative.

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