The country has various mechanisms to control the spread of provocative information or terrorism, said a media and information lecturer.
Senior lecturer at the Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Dr Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said existing laws such as the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 were sufficient to tackle any crisis in the country.
“Our country is recognised for having good preventive management. Controlling social media use is the last alternative which could be taken if all other mechanisms fail.
“I feel it is not necessary for a black-out of social media as though the people are so easily influenced and are not capable of protecting themselves. This is also a form of discrimination and assumption which is bad for the people,” he said.
Noor Nirwandy was commenting on the findings by independent research firm Ipsos Global Advisor that a majority of Malaysian respondents wanted the government to temporarily ban social media during times of crisis to curb the spread of fake news.
Noor Nirwandy said the people must understand that freedom of expression as provided by the Federal Constitution should avoid touching on sensitive issues which are provocative and racist.
“Any kind of provocation which encourages conflict in the country or which can lead to terrorism could result from minimal technological skills which are easily accessed.
“Social media users with minimal skills can alter, edit or construct a message through videos, posters and postings on social media leading to fake news which could be provocative and racist...effort must be taken to ensure that social media is not misused,” he said.
Noor Nirwandy urged government agencies to work with academics to formulate long-term strategies to create a positive environment on social media.
“This will ensure social media interactions which are more positive and combat any attempt to create a disharmonious environment,” he said.