Malaysia warns Meta and TikTok against blocking pro-Palestine content

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Malaysia’s Communications Minister warned on Thursday he could take firm action if social media firms TikTok and Meta are blocking pro-Palestinian content on their platforms.

Meta said it was not deliberately suppressing voices on its Facebook platform, after Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said social media platforms had been accused of restricting content supporting the Palestinians.

“If this issue is ignored, I will not hesitate to take a very firm approach and stance,” Fahmi said in a posting on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Without elaborating, Fahmi said many parties had urged the government to take firm action against social media platforms that restrict pro-Palestinian content.

A Meta spokesperson said there was “no truth” to the claim.

“Our policies are designed to keep people safe on our apps while giving everyone a voice,” the spokesperson said in an email to Reuters on Thursday.

TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Both Meta and TikTok designate Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs Gaza, as a “dangerous organisation” and ban content praising the group.

They also use a mix of automated detection and human review to remove or label graphic visuals.

In response to the conflict, Meta, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has taken such added steps as lowering the threshold at which its technology takes action against potentially violative posts to avoid inadvertently showing them in feeds as recommended content.

The company said some of the take-downs perceived as penalising support for Palestinians were actually caused by an unrelated technical bug that “had nothing to do with the subject matter of the content.”

Meta said in mid-October that it had taken down or labeled nearly 800 000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic in the three days after Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

TikTok, likewise, said in an update on Wednesday that it had removed more than 775 000 videos and 14 000 livestreams since the attack.

Fahmi said Malaysians have a right to freedom of speech regarding the Palestinian cause.

He said he would meet TikTok representatives next week to discuss the matter.

Two weeks ago Fahmi said TikTok had not complied fully with Malaysia’s laws and had not done enough to curb defamatory or misleading content.

TikTok in a response said it would take proactive measures to address the issues raised.