KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) Twitter account @SKMM_MCMC went dark tonight after local Twitter users unearthed old tweets with crass and puerile content from the account dating back to 2014.
Internet users then mocked and trolled the account by requoting those tweets — some of them homophobic, racist or just plain lovelorn — to the internet regulator which had earlier today warned users against publishing offensive posts after a state of Emergency was declared here.
Nazrul Hakim, a 22-year-old man residing in Pahang, told Malay Mail that he was the original owner of the account @Nazrulllhakim, which he had then sold to another person — who presumably then sold the account to the administrator of the MCMC account.
“The account had around 50,000 followers at that time. So somebody offered to buy that account from me,” Nazrul told Malay Mail over text message.
“I was then just 15 or 16 years old. As a schoolkid, of course, I wanted to feel what it’s like to have money.”
Nazrul said he had sold his account to another Twitter user for RM1,300. Malay Mail could not verify this purchase as Nazrul did not have any record of the transaction.
Malay Mail has contacted said user for verification, and to know how the account then came into MCMC’s possession. It is understood that he is either a current or former staff member at the commission.
Account trading, which violates Twitter’s terms and conditions, is used when a person or entity wishes to acquire an account that has already amassed a huge number of followers straight away rather growing it organically over time.
According to Nazrul, he had then transferred his username and password after he received the payment through online banking.
Before its account was made private and subsequently went dark, MCMC had nearly 70,000 followers.
“By God, I did not know the account would become MCMC’s official account,” Nazrul said.
Nazrul said that he did not bother deleting his old tweets because he was just a student then, and was not aware of the consequences.
He also said that he did not think his account would end up being used by a government body since he had not even scrubbed it clean.
The tweets, many of which were retweeted and quote-tweeted by local users, were indicative of his worldview then, he said.
There were f-bombs, several homophobic tweets, racist remarks, and also lewd ones expressing lust.
“I was just a kid, so surely there would be some nonsense, disgusting posts. But I now regret saying those things,” he said.
Some were hilarious when taken out of context, like the one chiding a bald person — which internet users had joked was about Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman who has just shaved his head for charity.
Several others that captured the public’s imagination were his sentiments of affection for his ex-girlfriend and those close to him — surreal when they now seem to be coming from one of the country’s top government commissions.
Malay Mail could not verify who was the first user to discover these tweets from 2014, at the time of writing.
Several internet users have used today’s incident to point out MCMC’s “hypocritical” attitude, in light of the fact that it had earlier issued a warning against offensive posts on race, religion and royalty, considered the three hot button topics in the country, amid the Emergency.
MCMC had also then shared several ways that users can report offensive content, which led to Twitter users reporting the MCMC account to itself.
As for Nazrul, he said he is fine with users making fun of his old tweets. “But just don’t involve my ex, or my photos,” he added.
It is unclear how and why MCMC decided to repurpose an old private account for its own use.
It is also unclear whether MCMC has deleted its account, or just deactivated it, presumably to finally scrub Nazrul’s old tweets.
Malay Mail has reached out to MCMC, and Communications Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah for clarification.
Tonight, MCMC claimed that its Twitter account was infiltrated and hacked by “irresponsible parties”, and has been suspended for the time being — despite the tweets dating back to 2014.
It also reminded the public against being influenced by “suspicious, offensive and slanderous” tweets published by its account.
MCMC, formed in 1998 to regulate the communications and multimedia industry, has recently cracked down on several internet users and media agencies since the Perikatan Nasional government took over Putrajaya.
In October last year, its chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek warned against parody and fake accounts, saying agencies or individuals affected by them can take civil action against the account holders.
It had also in July last year fined satellite broadcaster Astro for airing a documentary by Qatar-based Al Jazeera critical of the country’s handling of undocumented migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was fined RM1,000 for each of the four times the episode was aired.