The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced on Friday it will take legal action against Meta, the parent company of Facebook as the company has failed to remove “undesirable contents” on the Facebook social media platform.

In a statement, the MCMC said the Facebook platform has recently been plagued by a significant volume of undesirable contents relating to the aspects of Race, Royalty, Religion (3R), defamation, impersonation, online gambling as well as scam advertisements.

“In response, the MCMC has reached out to Meta, parent company of Facebook to have such harmful contents removed from its platform,” the agency wrote. “Despite repeated requests from MCMC, Meta has failed to take sufficient action to address the issue of undesirable contents on its platform and has not fully cooperated with efforts to remove such contents. Meta’s response, which has been sluggish and unsatisfactory, has not met the urgency of the matter and has led to increasing public concern and scrutiny.”

As there is no sufficient cooperation from Meta, MCMC said it has no option but to take definitive steps or legal action against Meta as a measure to ensure that people are secure and protected in the digital sphere. The agency said such action is necessary in promoting accountability for cybersecurity and enhancing consumer protection against online harms, including fraudulent activities and scams.

“MCMC is utterly intolerant towards any continuous and escalating abuse of online platforms and telecommunications, network or online facilities for malicious cyber activities, phishing, or any contents that threatens racial stability, social harmony and defies respect for the Rulers,” the agency added.

The announcement also comes just ahead of elections in six states in the country. Facebook is Malaysia’s largest social media platform with an estimated 60 percent of its population of 33 million having a registered account, Reuters reported.

Stock exchange supports MCMC’s action

Meanwhile, in a separate statement on Friday, local stock exchange Bursa Malaysia has supported MCMC’s action to take action against Meta for failing to remove undesirable contents relating to amongst others, scam advertisements, on its platform.

“The exchange has been the target of scams with ill-intentioned impersonation of Bursa Malaysia and its management on social media platforms – in particular Muhamad Umar Swift, its Chief Executive Officer,” the company said.

The exchange said it has found an alarming number of these impersonations over Facebook, in fact over 60 pages this year, with a spike in recent months. As alerted through past media statements and social media postings, the exchange reiterate that these fake pages and sponsored advertisements have no relation to Muhamad Umar Swift nor the Exchange.

“Any form of communication, other than via the exchange’s own verified and official website and social media channels, is not authorised or lawful, and is designed to mislead or cheat the public. This includes any form of communication purportedly from the exchange’s Chief Executive Officer or any of its Board members or personnel,” it said.

While the exchange takes prompt action to raise attention to detected scams and report the cases, the exchange said it is very concerned that the time taken for removal of such pages by the relevant bodies, greatly increases the risk of innocent and unknowing members of the public revealing personal information and/or being duped, if they were to fall for such unauthorised solicitations or invitations.

Even with the actions taken by the exchange, fake pages impersonating Muhamad Umar Swift with corresponding sponsored advertisements continue to emerge on Facebook and other social media sites.

The alarming incidence and rise of these scams via fake pages are of serious concern and the Exchange calls on Meta and all other social media entities to take swifter action to minimise or prevent malicious, misleading and/or illegal activities.

“Despite submitting recurring take down reports that establish a very simple and clear pattern of impersonation, we are very concerned that incidents of the same nature continue to occur. We need the relevant entities, including Meta, to put in place algorithms or checks to prevent, or quickly detect and put a stop to these blatant scams, which thrive on identity theft and fraud,” said Muhamad Umar Swift.

Similar scam tactics have been found on other notable Malaysian figures and companies.

“Meta as an organisation should take further steps to prevent confusion and fraud among its users, and reputational damage and negative brand association to the affected individuals or entities” he added.

According to the MCMC, a total of 744 reports on online scams involving Facebook from January to May 25, 2023 were reported.

Globally, there has also been calls by other jurisdictions for Meta to be more responsible or held accountable for abetting scams, Bursa Malaysia noted.

“The public are advised to continue being vigilant and not fall prey to scams. They can also play a role in preventing online scams by reporting any scams that use Bursa Malaysia’s name, logo, or representative. The exchange would like to reiterate to the public that Muhamad Umar Swift and other Bursa Malaysia representatives do not and will not run sponsored advertisements nor issue invitations to ‘exclusive stock tips’ groups,” it added.

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