‘Don’t charge WhatsApp admins, give guidelines first’

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Source: FMT News

MCMC statement on WhatsApp group administrators being responsible for everything sent to group causes shockwave, resulting in disclaimer going viral. Pic from FMT News.

MCMC statement on WhatsApp group administrators being responsible for everything sent to group causes shockwave, resulting in disclaimer going viral. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Two groups representing workers and employers say proper rules and regulations are needed to manage social media and public communication platforms like WhatsApp.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said this following a statement from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) that group administrators could be prosecuted if their WhatsApp groups were caught spreading fake news.

“It is too drastic. The government should provide proper guidelines first on how to manage WhatsApp rather than straight away implement laws to prosecute people,” MTUC president Abdul Halim Mansor told FMT today.

Having the proper rules and regulations in place is better than prosecution, he added.

MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan echoed the sentiments, pointing out that there is no proper manual on how to regulate WhatsApp.

“I think it is a hasty decision since there has been no proper guideline from MCMC on how to manage WhatsApp.

“The government should create an awareness campaign about the dos and don’ts when using any social media platform,” he said, adding that WhatsApp was just a small part of a huge network.

Shamsuddin also suggested that group administrators verify facts with MCMC’s information verification portal, Sebenarnya.my.

He said it was unfair for the group administrators to be prosecuted if the group members were the ones sharing fake information.

Malaysians who regularly use WhatsApp to communicate with others took issue with MCMC’s statement.

Lina Amalina Noorhan said the contents of communication tools such as WhatsApp were difficult to monitor.

“It is a public chatting tool with hundreds of members. How can MCMC monitor all and regulate every WhatsApp group out there?”

Amalina, an online entrepreneur, uses the social media platform to communicate with her customers. She suggested that the public be given proper guidelines on content that is permissible for sharing via WhatsApp.

The commotion over WhatsApp began when Malay daily Berita Harian reported MCMC deputy minister Jailani Johari as saying that action would be taken against administrators of WhatsApp groups who failed to curb the spread of fake news.

Jailani added that those who were caught and proven to be spreading false news would be charged under the 1998 Communication and Multimedia Act.

“The administrator will be brought in for questioning, and whether the person will be charged or not will be judged on a case to case basis,” he said.

The report sparked the widespread circulation of a disclaimer notice distancing group admins from any offending content in WhatsApp messages.

The notice reads: “I and other group admins do not allow or support any form of WhatsApp messages that display information that is pornographic, incorrect, libellous, seditious, false or inappropriate and as determined in accordance with/by the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998. All WhatsApp messages displayed by individuals or myself in this group are not my responsibility; it is the responsibility of every individual in this group.”

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