The Freedom of Speech on Social Media

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Nowadays, social media is an important tool for communication and express our-self in our daily life. We can get any kind of information instantly on social media. Today what happening here, tomorrow will become a piece of news spreading globally. Social media had become a global trend and an amazing platform for everyone do to things like business, discussion, deal, making new friends and others. Helping you to portray your interest, your views, show who you are and your feeling as well. However, several laws that restrict people in social media. Which is the sedition amendment act 2015, Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 and Defamation Act 1957.

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Sedition Amendment Act 2015 is one of the laws that restrict people speeches in social media enacted by the Parliament of Malaysia. Sedition the word itself means that attempts made, meetings or speeches or by publications, to disturb the tranquility of the State, which do not amount to treason. Sedition amendment act 2015 was the amendment of the Sedition Act 1948. The sedition act was originally enacted by colonial authorities of British Malaya in year 1948. ‘Seditious’ was defined as any act, word, speech, publication, or other thing that including ‘seditious tendency’. Which is engender ‘feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races’ or ‘bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against’ the government?

There is one of the example cases of the Sedition amendment act 2015. On July 13, 2013, The couple known as Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee had uploaded a picture on their Facebook page. A picture showing was showing them eating Bak kut teh with greeting ‘Selamat Berbuka Puasa’, and a halal logo on the bottom left corner of the picture inviting Muslims to breakfast together. The picture is considered as inciteful content and religiously insensitive. They were charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, Subsection 5(1) of the Film Censorship Act and Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code on July 18, 2013.

Sedition Amendment Act 2015 was mean to stop people from doing something that can create conflict or misunderstanding between a group of people or individuals on social media. For example, there are have people who intend to incite cases that relate to race, religion or classes in social media. At the end of this incitement, only hatred was created among a group of people or between different races. That is the purpose of the Sedition Amendment Act 2015 in social media, to stop someone’s speeches that contain incitement or conflict creation.

Then, the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 is one of the important laws among several laws in Malaysia. It’s enacted to regulate multimedia industries and the converging communications, and for incidental matters. Any statement that wrote or post on the social media that intentionally offensive and insults to someone may cause charge under the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998.

One of the cases related to the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 is about Datuk Zaid Ibrahim making an offensive statement through internet application services. He is a former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. He was charged for allegedly making the offensive statement with headline, ‘Rally Behind Tun Dr. Mahathir’ . He was accused of the offense at the Classified Crimes Investigation Unit on Sept 3, 2015. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), and also punishable under Section 233(3) of the same Act.

Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 was mean to restrict people not to misuse social media. The act safeguarding the internet from gambling, extremism and being abused for pornography. Without this Act in social media, a specific group of people will commit crimes for their benefit like scam, threaten people and others. Also, some law-like Article 19 is to silence those who are critical of the government.

Defamation Act 1957, an act relating to the law of libel and slander. It’s also one of the restrictions in terms of laws in social media. When a person expresses some words that may lower another person’s reputation on social media or in public, it occurs as defamation. Libel is mean someone express their feeling such as words in permanent form, like in book, picture or email. Slander is usually someone expressed in a temporary form like spoken or body movement.

There is one example case of defamation in the year 2017. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia as the Plaintiff, sued Tony Pua Kiam Wee, a member of Parliament of Malaysia as the Defendant, for defamation. ‘BN Govt abandons all Bills to give precedence to PAS RUU355 Private Member’s Bills’, the word had been entitle on a live video as a post on Facebook by The Defendant Facebook account. The post went viral with 82,434 video views. The Plaintiff trying to stop the Defendant from publishing the defamatory statement by applied the interlocutory injunction.

Defamation Act 1957 was mean to stop people from spreading defamatory statements for another person. A defamatory statement is that tends to lower an individual in the estimation of right-thinking, avoided or to expose him to hatred or causes a person to be shunned. If a defamatory statement is allowed in social media like Facebook or Whatsapp,it may cause a person psychologically injured or even worst commit suicide.

In conclusion, freedom of speech on social media is an advantage for every user to express their feeling and thought to each other. Everyone should have the right and the courage to speak out for their benefit and society. It is very important that every individual has to stand up when they are facing a wrong or injustice situation. However, when there is wider freedom of speech, there must be stronger the law of restriction. The restriction in term of law in social media is to guarantee that everyone express their thought in a courtesy way, without hurting people, and avoid intentionally harm other people. 

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