Malaysia sees 16-fold increase in restricted online content

Social media providers restrict access to these items based on reports from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

(FMT) – There has been a sharp increase in the amount of restricted content in Malaysia, data from Meta’s transparency centre shows.

The number of restricted items found online rose from 536 in 2022 to 8,580 in 2023 – a 16-fold increase in just one year.

Calculations by FMT, based on Meta’s data, also revealed that 66 items were declared restricted in the first half of 2022. The number rose to 470 in the following six months.

In the first half of 2023, there were 3,100 restricted items, while in the months from July to December, there were an additional 5,480 items.

Separately, social media providers also reported large increases in restricted content on their sites.

In 2023, Facebook reported a total of 3,250 restricted posts, 1,900 comments, 1,832 pages and groups, two albums and 690 profiles in Malaysia.

On Instagram, Meta’s data revealed that 660 accounts and 282 media items were declared restricted during the same period.

In its change log update for the period of July to December 2023, Meta found 4,700 restricted items comprising illegal gambling content, scams, posts on regulated goods, offensive 3R (race, religion and royalty) comments and cyberbullying.

The company said content is categorised as restricted in response to reports by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

“We have also restricted access in Malaysia to over 470 items reported by government agencies such as the health ministry and commercial crime investigation department for alleged violation of local laws related to regulated goods as well as fraud and scams,” Meta said.

“The remaining items were declared restricted for alleged violations of other local laws.”

MCMC has been working with social media providers such as Meta and TikTok to boost their monitoring efforts in response to a surge in harmful content.

Earlier this year, the commission reported a notable increase in harmful content circulating on social media and over-the-top platforms, reaching 51,638 cases in the first three months alone.

Deputy communications minister Teo Nie Ching previously said that MCMC would present requests for the removal of specific content to Facebook, TikTok, X and other platforms if it received a complaint.

However, she denied that the government issued directives to social media providers to remove content critical of the administration from their platforms.