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Malaysia Suffers Social Media Abuse, Responds By Blocking Over 1,400 Sites

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has either shut down or blocked at least 1,400 websites following complaints received, said Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. He added that the commission had initiated appropriate action while continuing to monitor and investigate.

He said a total of 1,225 complaints were received on the abuse of social media accounts and websites in the country from January to August this year. The number, he added, was only 0.006 per cent of the 19.2 million Internet users in Malaysia.

“Following that, we have shut down about 1,400 websites, because although we believe in freedom of information, it should not be done against the law,” he was quoted saying by The Star. Ahmad Shabery was responding to Datuk Seri Nor Omar in Parliament last Tuesday who had asked about the abuse of the social media in the name of ‘media freedom’ in the country.

Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. Image credit: The Star
Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
(Image Credit: The Star)

The minister said that although freedom of the Internet was one of the criteria to be a developed country, it should also be within the boundaries of the law. According to The Malaysian Insider, Ahmad Shabery said Facebook abuse was the most rampant with the country having the highest number of accounts in the world. The anonymity of the users, he added, made it difficult for the authorities to take action against the errant users.

“We have about 15 million Facebook accounts in Malaysia. Some users use different names and hide behind the anonymity. It makes it hard for us to know who they are,” he said, adding that MCMC had received about 2,000 complaints on users who had misused their Facebook accounts.

This year, the country has taken 11 cases of social media abuse to court.

Image credit: Japan Times
Image Credit: Japan Times

On suggestion by Nor to set up a new Social Media Department in the ministry, Ahmad Shabery said he will consider the suggestion or act to complement the current Information Department by turning it more IT-savvy.

On the other hand, the Malaysian government is not considering the possibilities to ban Facebook in the country. Ahmad Shabery said that this is because the complaints on social media are rather low compared to the total internet usage. He added that the government strongly believed that the benefits of social media are greater than banning it totally.

“China’s model to ban the use of Facebook is wrong. It is not a good idea. We learn from the experience of other countries, like Korea when the government tried to shut down YouTube, but the court there said that the benefits you gain by shutting down social media is smaller than the benefits you gain through the social media,” he was quoted saying by The Sun Daily.

It’s great news that Malaysia is looking to other countries for examples to follow and avoid, so it looks like Facebook is here to stay.

 

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