Social Media Realm Needs to Remain a Positive Platform – Dr Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, 28 May — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad while delivering his speech during the official opening of Facebook Malaysia office at Q Sentral 2 today. –fotoBERNAMA (2019) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Bernama) — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged Facebook, and other social media platform providers, to continue collaborating with the Malaysian government and law enforcement agencies in order to ensure that the social media realm remains as a platform that generates positive changes, rather than the negative ones.

The Prime Minister said all stakeholders have to work together to overcome technical challenges as well as address the need for greater information sharing towards the disclosure or discovery of information to facilitate law enforcement agencies to carry out their duties effectively.

He said while Malaysia has been advocating a free and open Internet, this has to be within the ambit of the laws, and cannot be unfettered.

“The rule of thumb is simple – what is illegal offline is almost always illegal online.

“Freedom of speech is not a licence to abuse, it is a responsibility. Freedom of speech without any concern for good human behaviour would be a disaster for any society,” he said when opening the Malaysia Facebook office here, today.

Also present were Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and Facebook Malaysia Country Director Nicole Tan.

Dr Mahathir said another area for stronger cooperation between government and Facebook would be in Community Standards Enforcement Report.

“While there is some form of recognition of hate speech, there are other forms of speech that may potentially be a threat to a nation’s harmony and national security,” he said.

He said the government recognised that social media providers have done their best to find automated ways to search and filter inappropriate posts using User Generated Content (UGC) related to child pornography, terrorism and hate speech.

The challenge now, he added, was to address the diverse spectrum and other UGC content in relating to religious sensitivities, political speech, sedition and even human rights issues, to name a few.

“I am aware that Facebook and a few other social media providers are already working with the ASEAN Telecommunication Regulators’ Council on this and I urge all of you to continue your cooperation in expanding the current list of areas for immediate take-down,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also noted the rising number of wrongdoings and offences committed through the use of social media platforms, including cybercrimes.

He said the report on social media cybercrimes released earlier this year indicated that cyber criminals using means such as crypto jacking and botnets earn nearly US$3.25 billion annually through social platforms.

“This could be very alarming to Malaysia as we are considered quite vulnerable and green in dealing with malware and malicious software,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said the government is committed to move forward by focusing on the digital economy to help Malaysians communicate and stay connected and seeing local businesses compete positively as they grow into global brands.

He said both large and smaller companies need to embrace digital connectivity, use of data analytics and digital skills to explore opportunities to build digital businesses.

“For SMEs, it can be exciting to have thousands of ‘friends’ on Facebook driving lots of extra traffic to your website or retail locations,” he said.

He added in 2016, some 18 million Malaysians were active on Facebook monthly which translates to about 81 per cent of Malaysians on the Internet.

“Amazingly, 94 per cent of Malaysians discover products and brands on Facebook and significantly 62 per cent make a purchase after discovery. As of March 2019, the numbers have increased to 26 million Malaysians that were active on Facebook,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said on the government’s part, encouragement and incentives would be provided to investments and collaborations in turning Malaysia into a hub for digital services and communications.

— BERNAMA

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