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MCMC warns of civil action against parody accounts

Freedom of speech, but not freedom to lie, says communications regulator.

2 minute read
The BERMANA Twitter account, cited by MCMC as among problematic parody accounts in the country.
The BERMANA Twitter account, cited by MCMC as among problematic parody accounts in the country.

Agencies or individuals affected by parody or fake accounts can take civil action against the account holders, says Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek.

He said it was the right of the individuals or agencies concerned to take legal action, adding that there are also other laws in the country that can be applied against those who misuse technology, although these are not under MCMC’s jurisdiction.

“Parody accounts are not only a problem in Malaysia. These parody accounts are widespread both locally and abroad. Everything is the same.

“A parody account is a social media account, especially Twitter, with a name/brand or logo that is almost similar to a well-known body or organisation or dignitaries. It is a new trend in delivering false news, to mock or insult.

“A parody account is often uploaded through a global platform, namely Twitter or Facebook, that is based abroad. So the laws, whether in Malaysia or any other country, have their limitations.

“Those abroad are difficult to eliminate, but for individuals in the country, we are trying to use the approach of making our citizens morally conscious, that is, they can say what they like, but do not cheat. Freedom of speech, but not freedom to lie,” he said when met by Bernama recently.

Fadhlullah cited some examples of parody accounts in Malaysia such as “BERMANA”, which many mistake for Bernama, and Jakim @ MyJAKIM which uses the same logo with the letter L instead of J and the caption “Just Kidding”.

“As followers, they are not aware because when you look at the content, it is not only in the form of jokes but also confusing the public,” he said.

The BERMANA Twitter parody account @bermanadotcon, with 24.6 thousand followers delivering fake news, and Jakim’s fake Twitter account, which manipulates Quranic verses and hadiths, had caused problems for the owners of the real Twitter account owners, Bernama and Jakim, he said.

He said investigations had also taken some time and that MCMC had been in touch with Twitter and Facebook.

The public has to understand that the global platform company is not in Malaysia, he added.

On Oct 5, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri called on Jakim to take appropriate action regarding a parody Twitter account using the department’s name and logo.

MCMC, through its official website on Oct 6, updated the status of the Twitter account @MyJAKIM and urged the public to be more cautious of parody accounts.

“MCMC would like to express its appreciation to Twitter for its cooperation in suspending the Twitter (parody) account of JAKIM @ MyJAKIM which was found to be attempting to spread messages that insult the religion.

“The public is advised to be cautious with the existence of such fake accounts and report it to the authorities for further action,” it said.