Malaysia has been listed as one of 55 countries where people have been investigated, arrested, and even convicted over social media posts.
The country scored 58 out of 100 points for internet freedom in a report produced by American think tank Freedom House, the same as last year. The social media platforms Malaysian authorities targeted were Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok.
Between June 2020 and May, the Freedom on the Net report marked Malaysia for blocking political, social, or religious content, allowing pro-government commentators to manipulate online discussions, imposing a new law or directive that increased online censorship, and detaining someone over political or social content.
Malaysia also became one of 24 countries that initiated measures governing how platforms treat content, including requirements to remove posts containing issues linked to race, religion, and the monarchy, the report said. The internet is considered “partly free” in Malaysia unlike in other neighboring countries, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam, where internet usage is controlled.
In the past year, Malaysian police have made multiple arrests over social media posts, including political satirist Fahmi Reza and a man who tweeted about the royal family. News portal Malaysiakini in February was found guilty of contempt of court over reader comments on its site and fined a hefty RM500,000 (US$124,000).