In a notable development, both Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and TikTok, faced record restrictions on social media posts and accounts in Malaysia. The data released by the platforms revealed a significant surge in government requests to remove content during the first half of 2023.
The administration of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, elected in November 2022 with a reformist agenda, faced allegations of curbing freedom of speech. The government countered these claims, asserting its commitment to curbing provocative posts related to race, religion, and royalty rather than stifling dissent online.
Meta, responding to governmental requests, imposed restrictions on approximately 3,100 pages and posts on Facebook and Instagram in Malaysia, citing alleged violations of local laws. This figure marked a substantial sixfold increase from the preceding six-month period, representing the highest number since Meta began reporting content restrictions in Malaysia in 2017.
Between July 2022 and June 2023, Meta restricted access to over 3,500 items, responding to reports from Malaysia’s communications regulator and other government agencies. The restricted content encompassed criticism of the government, as well as posts violating laws on illegal gambling, hate speech, divisive content, bullying, and financial scams. Meta’s Transparency Report underscores the company’s commitment to addressing diverse content concerns raised by Malaysian authorities.