MCMC’s guide for chat admins: Deal with trolls

Last week, a local malay daily reported that WhatsApp chat group administrators risk facing imprisonment should they fail to contain the spread of false messages. — Reuters pic
Last week, a local malay daily reported that WhatsApp chat group administrators risk facing imprisonment should they fail to contain the spread of false messages. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has released a do’s and dont’s guide for chat group administrators after warning them of potential prosecution over fake news.

On its official website, the MCMC posted a six-point guide, which included checking posts in chat groups with a moderator, commenting on posts to “ensure discussions stay on track”, and to “deal firmly with trolls”.

Some of the recommended do’s include informing members the reasons for setting up chat groups, setting ground rules, and to consider blocking members who insist on making inappropriate posts.

The guide also stressed the importance of working with law enforcement authorities should there be an investigation into these private chat groups, and to be mindful of the rules set by the chat group platform provider, be it Facebook, WhatsApp or Telegram.

MCMC’s don’ts for chat group administrators comprise being an inactive or “absent” administrator, breaching community guidelines set by the platform provider, encouraging “inappropriate” posts, allowing discussions to go astray from topics discussed, and hindering any investigations by the state.

Last week, Malay language daily Berita Harian reported that WhatsApp chat group administrators risk facing imprisonment should they fail to contain the spread of false messages, which can “potentially threaten national security”, in chat groups supervised by them.

Communications and Multimedia deputy minister Datuk Jailani Johari reportedly said that the action could be enforced under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.

He was quoted saying that under the CMA, various actions could be criminalised, such as spreading false news, making seditious remarks, libel and exposing confidential information classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Although chat groups on social messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are private, screenshots of conversations have sometimes been published publicly on social media platforms like Facebook.