Social media providers not obligated to remove criticisms of govt, Dewan Rakyat told

KUALA LUMPUR: Social media platform providers cannot be compelled to take down content deemed critical of the government, Deputy Communications Minister Teo Nie Ching told the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Feb 27).

"If there is a report, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will forward a request to platform providers such as Facebook, TikTok, X or others.

"But in the end, it is up to them to decide if they agree with the MCMC and the government.

"Thus, if certain content is taken down, it means that the platform provider agrees with the judgment and views of the government," she said in reply to a supplementary question by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muda-Muar).

Syed Saddiq had taken a swipe at the government for blocking or removing content on social media platforms which were critical of the administration.

"In 2022, a total of 96 (items) critical of the government were taken down whereas over 4,000 were removed in 2023.

"This is a 40-fold increase," he said, questioning whether it was a new tactic by the government to silence critics.

Syed Saddiq claimed that a recent posting by Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin (PN-Putrajaya) on the fall of the ringgit, which had garnered some two million views, was removed.

Teo stressed that the government had no control over platform providers which are large multinational companies guided by their own community guidelines.

"YB Muar is an influencer with a large following and should understand this," Teo said in response to Syed Saddiq's claims.

Earlier, Teo told Datuk Seri Doris Sophia Brodie (GPS-Sri Aman) that swift action was taken to remove content touching on 3R (race, religion and royalty) issues and fake news to prevent them from going viral.

"In 2021, 170 such pieces of content were removed compared to 271 in 2022.

"In 2023, some 7,000 pieces of hateful content, fake news and those touching on 3R matters were removed," she said.

She also said the Task Force Against Fake News, which was set up in December 2022, had taken action against 861 unverified news items touching on 3R issues as well as the Prime Minister and his administration.

She added that as of December, 91 investigation papers had been opened, 60 of which were resolved with the remainder still under investigation.

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