“Rising requests from unity gov’t for social media platforms to remove content a matter of great shame”

PAS has hit out at the reformist administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim following admission from the parent companies of Facebook and TikTok over increasing requests from the Malaysian government to remove content or block accounts on both platforms during the first six months of 2023.

The party’s information chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari has described such revelation as a matter of great embarrassment in view of the tendency of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman who often “shout out loud” that his reformative administration honours freedom of speech.

“It is nothing but rhetoric to sweeten the ears whenever Anwar brags about his reformist administration every time the PH component parties meet,” chided Ahmad Fadhli who is also the Pasir Mas MP in a Facebook post.

“This is probably no better than cashew nuts which are good to chew and eat but never filling to the stomach.”

For context, Meta Platforms Inc which is the parent company of Facebook had in a recent report stated that about 3,100 pages and posts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms were restricted from being accessible to users in Malaysia for allegedly violating local laws between January and June this year.

Ahmad Fadhli Shaari

The figure is six times higher than the previous half-year and the highest since the company began reporting content restrictions in Malaysia in 2017.

Moreover, Meta had further limited access to more than 3,500 contents in response to reports made by the Malaysian communications regulator and other government agencies between July 2022 and June 2023.

Meanwhile, TikTok received 340 requests from the Malaysian government to remove or block content between January and June 2023, a move that affected 890 broadcasts and accounts.

A total of 815 users were found to have violated local laws or TikTok’s community guidelines in the first six months of 2023, the highest figure since the short-form video hosting provider tarted reporting requests from Malaysia in 2019. The content removed from TikTok during the said period is three times more than that removed in 2H 2022.

“This goes to say that the unity government is most afraid of Facebook and TikTok compared to the government of the era of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob,” lamented Ahmad Fadhli.

“The content that are blocked are mostly critical of the government instead of being related to public safety issues or that involving the common interests of the community.”

He added: “That they are blocked supposedly to control slander and lies is completely unacceptable. By right, any spreader of defamatory message if found to have committed an offence, should be subject to investigation and prosecution in accordance with provisions of the existing law.” – Dec 17, 2023

Main pic credit: Getty Image

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