(CTN News) – In the first half of 2023, Meta and TikTok restricted a significant number of social media posts and accounts in Malaysia, according to data published by the companies.
The Malaysian government has faced criticism for potentially compromising freedom of speech but denies allegations of suppressing dissent online. Meta’s Transparency Report revealed that approximately 3,100 pages and posts on Facebook and Instagram were restricted in Malaysia due to alleged violations of local laws, the highest number since 2017.
TikTok received 340 requests from the Malaysian government to remove or restrict content, affecting 890 posts and accounts.
Based on the data, TikTok has removed or restricted 815 posts in Malaysia due to violations of local laws or the platform’s community guidelines.
This is the highest number of removals in six months since the platform began reporting requests from Malaysia in 2019, and it is three times the number of posts removed in the second half of 2022.
The data also reveals that Malaysia has made more requests to restrict content on TikTok than any other Southeast Asian government. However, Meta, the parent company of TikTok, has not disclosed the total number of government requests it has received for content restrictions.
Despite this data, the Malaysian government has not provided a comment on the matter. However, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil has stated that the communications regulator often takes action based on complaints from ordinary users.
He has denied allegations that he requested the agency to remove posts critical of him on social media.
Malaysia is a country where race and religion are sensitive topics, with a predominantly Muslim ethnic Malay population and significant ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities. The country also has laws that prohibit seditious remarks or insults against its monarchy.
In October, Fahmi criticized TikTok for not adequately addressing defamatory or misleading content on its platform. He accused the company of failing to comply with certain local laws.
In response, TikTok promised to take proactive measures to address the concerns raised.
The government had also threatened to take legal action against Meta for not taking action against “undesirable” content. However, after meetings with the company, the plan was abandoned.
Article 19, a free speech group, has criticized the removal of posts critical of the government and expressed concerns about the increasing requests to restrict content.
The group has warned that this could potentially stifle legitimate free speech and expression. Nalini Elumalai, the senior Malaysia program officer of Article 19, has stated that this is never acceptable.