Malaysian Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil announced on Thursday that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a warning to social media platforms TikTok and Meta for blocking pro-Palestinian content.
Fadzil also stated on Thursday that if the MCMC’s warning was ignored, he would not hesitate to take further actions against the two social media companies, although he did not specify what kind of measures would be taken. Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution provides the legal basis for citizen’s freedom of speech and expression.
Following the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, the tensions between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups has escalated online. This has been coupled with misinformation, graphic images and hate speech on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, which has drawn criticism from government officials around the world.
Since October 7, Facebook and Instagram users have reported that their posts about situations in Palestine have been “shadow banned,” drawing far fewer views than other contents. On October 13, Meta published a statement on its Ongoing Efforts Regarding the Israel-Hamas War, which denied the allegations that they were “deliberately suppressing voice.” It claimed that the measures applied by Meta were only to address the spike in harmful and potentially harmful content spreading on Meta’s platforms—including Facebook and Instagram—and such measures could be erroneously applied sometimes. However, it reiterated that “content containing praise for Hamas, which is designated by Meta as a Dangerous Organization, or violent and graphic content, for example, is not allowed on our platforms.”
The Malaysian government’s allegations against TikTok were likewise denied by spokesperson for the platform in an email to Reuters, stating that TikTok’s community guidelines apply equally to all content on TikTok. The community guidelines provide that no “violent threat, incitement to violence, promotion of criminal activities that may harm people, animals, or property,” or “hateful behavior, hate speech, or promotion of hateful ideology” is allowed.
Malaysia has taken a firm stance on the Israel-Hamas war. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza and demanded justice for Palestine on several occasions. In a public statement made on October 25, Ibrahim said his government has made the decision to support the struggle of the Palestinian people towards a Free Palestine.