KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Ipoh Timur MP Howard Lee Chuan How wants the federal government to exert pressure on popular video sharing app TikTok so that the tech giant will improve its regulation to prevent the spread of hate content.

In an undated internal memorandum to Pakatan Harapan MPs that was sighted by the Malay Mail today, Lee spelt out four actions he believes the government should take to prevent the spread of inflammatory content that could jeopardise harmony in multiethnic, multireligious and multicultural Malaysia.

“Firstly, have most if not all hate content — or content that has received reports of being hate content — taken down as a matter of urgency to prevent it from spreading further.

“Second, compel a thorough review of the content moderation guidelines, compelling the implementation of double moderation — similar to journalism’s double source verification — by a more diverse pool of content moderators, especially content that invoke hatefulness and inspire or incite violence,” he said in the memo.


Lee’s third proposition was for “internal” and “external” action to be taken against content creators who show signs of creating paid or sponsored content that had the potential to incite or trigger public unrest.

He stipulated that “internal” action could include TikTok banning such content creators, while external action could include criminal investigation by the police or by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

Lastly, he called for targeted pressure to be exerted onto TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, Google and Apple app stores and “maybe” even on payment gateways that TikTok content creators use to be paid.


Lee, who is also DAP central executive committee member, pointed out that TikTok’s content moderation operations are based in Kuala Lumpur.

“Whilst the responsibility to moderate content is mainly on the shoulders of social media platforms, app stores who offer downloading of these apps must also play their part.

“Is Google and Apple willing to allow contravention and violation of their own guidelines for appropriate content through an app available for download through their digital distribution/ app store?

“Surely, Apple App Store and Google Play Store’s respective app review and moderation must do a better job in reviewing apps to ensure that hate content does not get delivered through any app that is available on their platform?” he said.

TikTok has come under fire recently for the lack of moderation on content that could incite racial tensions in the period surrounding the 15th general election — such as content seemingly calling for a repeat of the May 13, 1969, incident.

On November 22, TikTok said it was on “high alert” and would aggressively remove any content that violated its guidelines on hate speech and violent extremism.