Malaysia to take legal action against Meta for failing to remove ‘undesirable content’ from Facebook

Malaysia to take legal action against Meta for failing to remove ‘undesirable content’ from Facebook
The Meta logo is seen at the Vivatech show in Paris, France on June 14, 2023. (File phoro: AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on Friday (Jun 23) announced that it will take legal action against Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc for failing to remove “undesirable content” from the platform.

“As there is no sufficient cooperation from Meta, MCMC has no option but to take definitive steps or legal action against Meta as a measure to ensure that people are secure and protected in the digital sphere.

“The action is necessary in promoting accountability for cybersecurity and enhancing consumer protection against online harms, including fraudulent activities and scams,” said MCMC’s corporate communications department in a statement.

According to MCMC, Facebook has been “plagued by a significant volume of undesirable content” to do with defamation, impersonation, online gambling, scam advertisements and aspects of race, religion and royalty – popularly known as 3R.

It added that Meta has not fully cooperated with its request to remove such content and has failed to take sufficient action to address the issue.

“Meta’s response, which has been sluggish and unsatisfactory, has not met the urgency of the matter and has led to increasing public concern and scrutiny,” according to the statement.

The regulator added that it is intolerant towards any abuse of online platforms and telecommunications, network or online facilities for malicious cyber activities, phishing activities, or any content that threatens racial stability, social harmony and defies respect for the Rulers.

According to the Malay Mail, Meta said in a report in 2022 that it had identified and removed over 600 accounts linked to the Royal Malaysian Police across all its social network platforms for violating the policy against “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

Most of the accounts were alleged to be part of a “troll farm” to corrupt or manipulate public discourse using fake accounts.

Meta reportedly claimed in its Quarterly Adversarial Threat report that this network of fake accounts posted memes in Malay in support of the then-Perikatan Nasional administration. The accounts also attempted to paint its critics as corrupt, in addition to promoting the police force, according to the Malay Mail.

Previously, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said that Facebook, among other social platforms, has been cooperating with the government.

This amid messaging app Telegram’s reported refusal to cooperate with the ministry.

On Jun 5, MCMC announced that it is considering taking action against Telegram due to cybercrime cases associated with the platform.

The regulator’s chief compliance officer Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin said then that Telegram has risen to be one of the top 5 platforms with the most cybercrime activities, according to the New Straits Times (NST). Previously, the app was in the 11th spot between 2019 and 2020.

In a report by NST on May 28, Telegram spokesperson Mr Vaughn said that the messaging app refuses to participate in “any form of political censorship”.

He said that Telegram has actively moderated harmful content on its platform – including the sale of illegal substances and public pornography – since its launch.

However, following a meeting with Telegram representatives, Mr Fahmi said on Jun 19 that the platform has agreed to cooperate with MCMC and the Malaysian police to clamp down on cyber fraud, according to The Star.

Source: CNA/ya(nm)