Malaysia meets social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss fake news law

For many, fact-checking and truth come second, based on a report by the Institute of Policy Studies. The exchange underscores a major theme that emerged during the first public hearing on deliberate online falsehoods on Wednesday (March 14). VIDEO: GOV.SG
Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a proposal to tax Google and Facebook advertisements will be presented to the Cabinet.
Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a proposal to tax Google and Facebook advertisements will be presented to the Cabinet.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government has sought views from social media platform providers as part of its effort to draft a new law to combat fake news, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said on Tuesday (March 13).

Datuk Seri Azalina said a discussion was held in Parliament on Monday (March 12) with internet giants including Facebook, Twitter, Google and its video sharing website YouTube, as well as the Asia Internet Coalition - an industry association made up of leading internet and technology companies including Yahoo!, LinkedIn and Google.

"The meeting was held as a measure to get more views and input from the main players in this new media sector, in line with the Government's effort to introduce a law on fake news," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ms Azalina claimed the discussion received positive reactions from the platform providers, and added that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was also part of the meeting.

She said the meeting was vital to ensure that the law being drafted is comprehensive and covers all aspects. "It also is proof that the Government is inclusive in coming up with policies or laws," she added.

Ms Azalina, who heads the special committee on fake news that is drafting the new law, said it would curb fake news that threatens public order and national security.

"The law drafted will also protect society from becoming victims of fake news. I believe it can curb the global phenomenon of fake news and false information from becoming viral and cancerous to the nation," she said.

Last Monday (March 5), Ms Azalina said the final draft of the proposed law to curb fake news will be ready in two weeks.

She said a version of the draft was being circulated among ministers and would be presented to Cabinet soon.

Malaysia's king, the Yang-Di Pertuan Agong, also expressed support for legislation to address the spread of fake news and slander on social media in his Royal Address at the opening of Parliament last week.

Separately, Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a proposal to tax Google and Facebook advertisements will be presented to the Cabinet to be discussed on Wednesday (March 14).

He said the proposed tax was brought up at a lunch dialogue session with editors and publication permit holders earlier on Tuesday.

The suggestion had come from Star Media Group group managing director and chief executive officer Wong Chun Wai, who had pointed out that Vietnam imposes a tax on ads posted on Facebook and Google.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said that the media and Government should work together on how to resolve challenges faced by print and electronic media in the wake of alternative media.

He also raised the issue of self-regulation in the media industry, saying one way would be the setting up of a council or appointing ombudsmen.

Last year, the Home Ministry issued one stern warning letter, two warnings, 14 reminders, 44 advisory and four show-cause letters for violations under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.