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Malaysia to prosecute Meta over unwanted online gambling content

Malaysian gambling news

The government of Malaysia announced on Friday that it intended to sue Meta, Facebook’s parent company, for failing to comply with requests to remove “undesirable” gambling content.

According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Facebook has allowed a “significant volume of undesirable content” to stay on its platform. This content relates to aspects of “race, royalty, religion, defamation, impersonation, online gambling as well as scam advertisements.”

In response, the MCMC requested that Facebook take down some of the offending content. These repeated requests were met with unsatisfactory responses, leading to the commission’s latest decision to prosecute the social media giant.

“Despite repeated requests from MCMC, Meta has failed to take sufficient action to address the issue of undesirable contents on its platform and has not fully cooperated with efforts to remove such contents. 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,” the MCMC said in a statement.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform in Malaysia, with 60% of its 33 million population, having a registered account. This is around 19,800,000 people.

According to the commission, taking legal action was necessary for the protection of its residents and to promote accountability for cybersecurity. The move is the strongest measure the country has taken over content like this to date.

The MCMC also stated that the country was entirely intolerant towards “abuse of online platforms and telecommunications, network or online facilities for malicious cyber activities, phishing, or any contents that threatens [sic] racial stability, social harmony and defies respect for the rulers.”

Malaysia, which has a majority of Muslim ethnic people and ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, have shown to be entirely intolerant of issues regarding race, religion, comments on their royals, and vices like gambling.

Weeks earlier, the country asked Telegram, the social media app to remove some materials suspected to be a part of online scams. While the app initially refused, it was later revealed that it was cooperating with the officials.

Other big social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok are usually under strict regulatory scrutiny to ensure their content does not violate the country’s laws.

The tighter restrictions on digital content come after the MCMC appointed Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din as the new Chair. He was appointed in March and is expected to hold the position for the next two years.

Since he was appointed, the commission has launched a wider review of the regulatory framework for digital content in the country. Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din also stated that the commission would review the supervisory approach used when conducting a higher level of supervision via existing statutory instruments.

Besides Malaysia, other Southeast Asian governments like Vietnam have requested that social media platforms take down offending content.

Vietnam warned Facebook in 2020 that it would shut down its operations in the country if the platform did not comply with the government’s demands to reduce local political content aired on its platform.

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