Malaysia announced on Friday that it would sue Meta, Facebook’s parent, for failing to remove “undesirable” posts.
Since taking office in November, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration has committed to reduce what it terms provocative remarks that touch on race and religion.
The hotly contested national election last year has contributed to an increase in ethnic tensions.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said in a statement that Facebook has recently been “plagued by” a sizable amount of objectionable content relating to race, royalty, religion, defamation, impersonation, online gambling, and scam marketing.
Additionally, it stated that despite its repeated demands, Meta had not acted sufficiently, and that legal action was required to encourage cybersecurity accountability and protect consumers.
In Malaysia, where there is a sizable ethnic Chinese and Indian minority as well as a majority of Muslim ethnic Malays, race and religion are contentious topics.
Commentary on the nation’s renowned royals is likewise a touchy subject, and disparaging remarks about them may result in legal action under sedition laws.
A few weeks away from regional elections in six states, which are anticipated to pit Anwar’s multiethnic coalition against a conservative Malay Muslim alliance, comes the action against Facebook.
Approximately 60% of Malaysia’s 33 million people have established accounts on Facebook, making it the largest social media network in the country.
Large social media companies like Meta, Google’s YouTube, and TikTok are frequently inspected by regulatory authorities for the content that is posted on their platforms.
Governments in Southeast Asia have regularly asked for content to be removed. Vietnam warned in 2020 to shut down Facebook if it did not accede to demands from the government to regulate more regional political information on its site.
In 2019, Facebook removed hundreds of local accounts, pages, and groups connected to a false news syndicate in Indonesia.