Meta to be sued for failing to remove “undesirable” posts in Malaysia

In 2019, Facebook removed hundreds of local accounts, pages, and groups connected to a false news syndicate in Indonesia.

The biggest action the nation has taken to far against such content came from Malaysia, which said on Friday that it will sue Facebook parent company Meta Platforms for failing to remove “undesirable” messages. Since taking office in November following a highly contested election in the Southeast Asian country that contributed to an increase in ethnic tensions, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration has promised to limit what it terms inflammatory remarks that touch on race and religion.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission stated in a statement that Facebook has recently been “plagued by” a sizable amount of objectionable information pertaining to race, royalty, religion, defamation, impersonation, online gambling, and scam marketing.


It said that despite its repeated demands, Meta had not taken adequate action, and that legal action was required to encourage cybersecurity accountability and safeguard customers. A remark was requested, but Meta didn’t react.

When questioned about possible legal action, the commission said in an email statement on Saturday that it is possible to commit crimes under Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 if network infrastructure or application services are allowed to be abused.

If timely action is not taken, the law also permits firm leaders to be penalised with “willfully providing means and aiding criminal activity,” it stated. In Malaysia, where the bulk of the population is of ethnic Malays who practise Islam and there are sizable minorities of Chinese and Indian origin, race and religion are contentious topics.

Commentary about the nation’s renowned royals is likewise a touchy subject, and disparaging statements about them may result in legal action under sedition laws.

The move against Facebook comes only weeks before elections in six states that are anticipated to put Anwar’s multiethnic coalition against a conservative Malay Muslim alliance. With an estimated 60 percent of the 33 million people in Malaysia having a registered account, Facebook is the largest social media network in the nation.

The content posted on the platforms of large social media companies like Meta, Google’s YouTube, and TikTok is frequently under regulatory review on a global scale. The removal of content has regularly been requested by several governments in Southeast Asia.

If Facebook does not accede to government demands to regulate more local political content on its site, Vietnam threatened to shut down the social media network in the nation in 2020. Last year, the government reported that social media companies operating in Vietnam had taken down more than 3,200 articles and videos in the first quarter for publishing incorrect material and breaking the law. In 2019, Facebook removed hundreds of regional profiles, pages, and groups in Indonesia that were connected to a false news network.