Several Malaysians have highlighted that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had attempted to remove their tweets criticising the government’s response to the devasting flood situation. It was revealed that Twitter didn’t entertain all removal requests but they have informed the respective Twitter users about the report in the interest of transparency.
The MCMC has admitted to making the removal requests to Twitter and told The Star it “respects platform providers such as Twitter but for the sake of national interest, it has to enforce compliance with the provisions of the law as stipulated in Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998”.
According to Section 233, a person that uses any application or service to comment, request, suggestion, or other communications which are obscene, indecent, false, menacing, or offensive in character with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person can be penalised with a fine not exceeding RM50,000, jailed for up to a year, or both.
Firdaus Azil of Astro Awani has also shared a statement issued by the MCMC admitting that tweets with offensive hashtags were reported to Twitter to ensure enforcement of Section 233 of CMA.
I would love to keep the tweet up and see how far they’re willing to go, but my parents are NOT happy with me. Just know that our government has the fucking audacity to do nonsense like this and try to silence voices over actually being helpful in this time. #KerajaanPembunuh— ✨ (@cheryltanxr_) December 21, 2021
Several tweets reported by the MCMC had used the hashtag #kerajaanpembunuh (murderous government) as well as #kerajaanbangsat (**** government). Besides tweets that criticise the actions of government officials, some of the reported tweets appear to be harmless like this tweet containing satellite imagery of North Mentakab.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto had called upon the Prime Minister to instruct the MCMC to stop intimidating voices of dissent. She said #KeluargaMalaysia (Malaysia Family) means nothing if it continues to allow the MCMC to persecute people who criticise the government for its ineffectiveness in managing the floods.
We have reached out to Twitter and they have sent us the following statement:
When we notify account holders that we have received a report against their account, it does not necessarily mean that we will take action on that report. We have a specially trained team that reviews each report against the Twitter Rules and our Terms of Service and determines whether or not it is in violation. Our policy is always to err on the side of freedom of expression, as appropriate and within the parameters of the law.
As a global company, Twitter exercises due diligence to respect local laws in jurisdictions around the world, and duly reviews all legal processes.
When Twitter receives a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter rules and local law. We notify the account holder directly, through the holder’s email account, so they are aware of the legal order request. If the content does violate Twitter Rules, we may remove it from the service.
Twitter has also published its transparency report which reveals the number of requests made by governments worldwide. Based on the published report, Malaysia has made a total of 275 removal requests from January 2012 to December 2020. The overall compliance rate by Twitter is 45% in Malaysia, versus 14% in Singapore and 7% in Indonesia.