Administrators responsible for filtering messages shared on their group chat or risk facing action, including imprisonment, for failing to stem the spread of offensive, false information
- Act as “gatekeepers” in censoring false information to stop dissemination of fake news in social media
- False, misleading, malicious content that potentially jeopardises the nation’s stability and harmony
- Current laws prevail: Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Sedition Act 1948, Defamation Act 1957, Computer Crimes Act 1957, Penal Code, Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972
A week following the news in India that any factually incorrect or misleading information on a social media group could result in action taken against the group administrator, Malaysia is now issuing a similar warning.
A news report by the Berita Harian has gone viral, creating a buzz among WhatsApp users.
For now, the government has no plans to draft a new law to penalise them.
According to The Sun Daily, Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Datuk Jailani Johari said, “As it is, the current laws still prevail, we have the Communications and Multimedia Act, Sedition Act, Defamation Act and the Penal Code.
However, administrators are urged to ensure no malicious content is spread in their group chats which could potentially jeopardise the nation’s stability and harmony.
“They have to manage their WhatsApp groups and implement its due diligence,” Jailani said.
“The problem in our society is we like to be the first to receive and forward a message, it will give us some sort of good feeling and will make us feel famous.
“If you forward something which is informative in nature then its okay, but if you spread something that could create havoc or tension, I reckon these things must be stopped, so responsible parties such as the MCMC, PDRM or any other agencies must take action against them.”
He added that the administrator may be called to assist with investigations and whether action is taken depends on the facts and evidence of each case. If the administrator is found to be directly involved or has allowed false information to spread intentionally, he will be punished.
Jailani urged group administrators to be more responsible and act as “gatekeepers” in censoring false information to stop the dissemination of fake news in social media.
Berita Harian quoted former Chief of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan as stating that if what is being shared on chat groups appear to be false, the administrator should filter and verify its authenticity to avoid any individual from being accused of slander.
The Muslim Consumer Association of Malaysia (PPIM) supports the move to hold WhatsApp group administrators accountable for failing to curb the spread of false information among group members.
According to its chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan, the move is fair and necessary to establish a more responsible society, apart from educating people to be more careful and sensitive whenever they wanted to share any information with other members.
Speaking to reporters, he said, “The habit of spreading false information has become a cancer in our society and represents the culture of an underdeveloped society because they do not bother to check the validity of the information first before sharing them as it is more fun to ‘share’ a message to all the people that ultimately have an adverse lasting impact on the victim.
“With the related law or acts, it is a good start that will bring benefit to all parties.”
Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, deputy president of the Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA), has called for the immediate implementation of the ruling to hold WhatsApp administrators answerable. said that this new rule of holding.
“In India, the government is introducing a new law which administrators of WhatsApp could be jailed if members of the group are spreading false news,” Mohd Yusof said.
However, he said sanctions against the administrators involved should not be too heavy, and that a warning would be sufficient for the first offence.
Former Chief of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan was quoted by Berita Harian as stating that if what is being shared on group chats appear to be false, the administrator has a responsibility to filter and verify the authenticity to avoid any individual from being accused of slander.
The noise on WhatsApp is growing, with users mostly opposing the move, saying it is not realistic as administrators are required to constantly be on the alert any information shared by members.
The important question here is it fair to pin the responsibility on the administrator? Tell us what you think on our Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Thetruenet/.