How the MCMC is outsourcing censorship

Private companies and PH supporters have been given sweeping censorship powers

Murray Hunter

Over the last few days, the Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has assured Malaysians that it is trying to protect internet users from an increasing amount of harmful online content.

Since Pakatan Harapan has come to power as the major party within the unity coalition, there has been a massive increase in content removal requests from the MCMC and other government authorities. The MCMC has also claimed that its focus has been focused upon online scams, illegal sales, gambling, misinformation, and hate speech.

This year, there has been a 24-fold increase in social media requests, amounting to 25,642 requests. Reuters has reported that Meta has restricted 3,100 pages and posts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms. This effectively means that these pages cannot be seen by anyone within Malaysia.

These posts have allegedly violated Malaysian laws, but lack transparency and natural justice where those who own the pages and/or post these comments are given any right of reply to defend their positions.

Requests to social media portals by the Ministry of Communications are higher than any other government in South-East Asia. However, what these figures don’t include is ‘content moderation’ undertaken by private companies, who employ Pakatan Harapan supporters as their agents.

MCMC’s outsourced censorship

Most of the internet platforms which include Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Google (YouTube), Tik Tok, and X (Twitter) mostly hire private companies to handle their content moderation in individual companies.

These platforms utilize a blend of foreign and locally registered companies. Two of the major companies utilized for content moderation include Accenture, Indeed, and Majorel Malaysia. There are a number of locally incorporated companies as well, all recruiting in what appears to be an exponentially growing industry in Malaysia.

Informers have said that the bulk of these content moderators are focusing on political content, and by far the vast majority of content moderators, are favourable towards Pakatan Harapan. This places a massive bias towards censoring materials stories and information detrimental to PH.

These content moderators have the power to define what is misinformation, political hate speech, and just what is bias against PH, without any guidance and transparency.

Thus, Pakatan through content moderators has created an army of social media censors inside the social media infrastructure. Some of these content moderators go out of their way to report blogger websites to the MCMC, which then asks internet service providers to clandestinely block blogger sites in an illegal manner.

ISPs do the MCMC’s dirty work

This is akin to the days before the internet in East Germany where Stasi informers tell the authorities that citizens disagree with the official government narratives. Content moderators are doing a massive disservice to democracy and freedom of speech, allowing the government to disclaim any such wrong doing.

Content moderators spy on potential political dissenters of the government and the ISPs do the dirty work for the MCMC, why they can say, it wasn’t the MCMC that blocked any sites.

The Madani government has created a biased social media censorship system, which may well be illegal.