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Malaysian Government Threatens to Block Facebook Over “Abuse” Reports

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Breaking News. Image: GoodManPL (Pixabay).

Posted 13 August 2014 15:01 GMT – The Malaysian government is studying a proposal to ban Facebook in response to the rising number of alleged abuses of the popular social network. Officials have promised to ask for public feedback before acting on the proposed Facebook ban.

Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek made the announcement after a Facebook user named Chandra Lawan Tetap Lawan posted a doctored photograph of a car crash that authorities deemed insulting to Malaysian King Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah. The original image showed a gory road accident with the King’s image inserted into the frame. The Facebook user claimed that his account was hacked and the photo has since been removed from the site.

Shabery says his department has received 2,000 claims of abuses committed by Facebook users. Although he did not specify if these reports of abuse came from local police records or from Facebook itself, his comments suggest that these claims mainly concern hate speech and threats issued on the site.

As an alternative to closing Facebook, some have suggested the registration of Facebook accounts with the government and an amendment to the Sedition Act to cover those who use social media to spread religious hate speech. But while these proposals do not advocate the absolute censorship of Facebook, they still pose a threat to free speech.

Meanwhile, national police forces report that they have formed a task force to monitor and take action against those who use social media to spread racist and hateful remarks.

Many reminded the government about the overall positive impact of Facebook in society. Aside from providing a great platform for youth interaction, Facebook has also boosted business opportunities in Malaysia.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has repeatedly assured the public that online free speech will never be curtailed but he should advise the government’s ministers, retired politicians, and other influential authorities to refrain from making direct and indirect threats about undermining Internet freedom.

Read more: globalvoicesonline.orgWritten by Mong Palatino

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