Fahmi Govt Looking Into Regulating Incendiary Online Content
The Communications and Digital Ministry will look into strengthening existing laws to better regulate provocative, violent or extremist social media content without compromising free speech.
Its minister Fahmi Fadzil also revealed the formation of a task force placed under his ministry that will focus on communications issues - specifically to tackle the dissemination of fake news.
“I have instructed the ministry’s secretary-general and senior other officials to examine existing legislation and review what steps need to be taken, to ensure not only a closer relationship but stricter laws… without compromising on free speech.
“We draw the line on hate speech, extremism and violent views.
“We want to see fewer provocative content, especially the ones touching on the 3Rs – royalty, race and religion,” Fahmi (above) said in a press conference at his ministry in Putrajaya today.
Fahmi said the decision was made after meeting TikTok representatives a few days ago, where he was presented with data on how many provocative videos were automatically removed by TikTok’s system during and after GE15.
For the period between Nov 12 and 18, there were 857 videos automatically removed by TikTok while 1,126 videos were removed between Nov 20 and 26.
Aside from the videos automatically removed by TikTok’s artificial intelligence-based system, Fahmi said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) also submitted 202 complaints to the company to remove content between Jan 1 and Dec 5.
However, of the 202 requests, 95 videos were taken down for violating TikTok’s community guidelines, 28 were removed for breaking the law and 79 more videos got left out.
Fahmi said it was a cause for concern that there was an increase in provocative content on TikTok the week after GE15 - when there were no ministers.
“This indicates at that point in time, there appears to be some kind of concerted, coordinated effort to perpetuate these videos, which obviously, for TikTok to automatically remove.
“Even TikTok has identified them to be provocative, violent and extremist - which is worrying,” he said.
He added that TikTok had also explained to the ministry that there are two forms of payment for content creation on their platform, that is through their system (sponsored content) and outside of their system (paid system).
“People are bypassing TikTok’s payment programme itself and somehow transacting outside the system but they are still using TikTok to disseminate hate speech… we want to see how we can better regulate or avoid a similar occurrence in the future,” he stated.
At the same time, Fahmi said his ministry has reached out to Meta, the company behind Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram in order to discuss the regulation of provocative content.
Meanwhile, he said the task force to deal with false news was formed on Dec 1 after a meeting with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
It will be tasked with monitoring the spread of false news on social media which is seen to be detrimental to various aspects of the country.
The task force will also handle the dissemination of clarifications of false news to the public, he added.
On Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) and the rollout of the 5G network, Fahmi said Anwar decided in the cabinet meeting earlier today to hold a discussion between the Finance Ministry and his ministry to review and propose their next course of action.
“InsyaAllah, the first meeting will be held as soon as possible, maybe Monday. I hope by the time we have the next cabinet meeting, we will have some suggestions (on our next steps),” he said.
Fahmi predicts that within a few weeks, they would have decided on a direction on this matter.
He added that they have no intention of interfering with the 5G network rollout but rather they want to hasten the process if possible as they are concerned about the “lateness” and “costs”.
When asked about the specifics of what they intend to look into with regard to DNB and the 5G network rollout, he declined to provide details.
The Lembah Pantai MP simply said there are several things to look into in order to assess the current situation - whether it is “contractual, technical, related to recent decisions about mergers, spectrum allocation or DNB equity”.
“Hopefully, by this time next week, we will have greater clarity on the policy horizon when it comes to DNB and 5G,” he said.
Fahmi also revealed that as of Oct 31, DNB is still continuing with the development of 5G infrastructure works, with 2,715 completed 5G locations, which accounts for 36 percent of population coverage. -Mkini
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