In the first six months of 2023, there has been a significant increase in the number of content restrictions on TikTok and Meta platforms in Malaysia. The government has made a record high number of requests to remove social media posts and accounts, raising some eyebrows given the administration’s promises to protect freedom of speech.
According to data published in Meta’s Transparency Report, approximately 3,100 pages and posts from Malaysian users were restricted on Facebook and Instagram for allegedly violating local laws. This figure is six times higher than the previous six months and the highest since the company began reporting content restrictions in Malaysia in 2017.
Similarly, ByteDance’s TikTok reported receiving 340 requests from the Malaysian government to remove or restrict content, affecting 890 posts and accounts. TikTok complied with 815 of those requests, citing violations of local laws or the platform’s community guidelines. This represents a triple increase compared to the second half of 2022, making Malaysia the government with the highest number of requests to restrict content on TikTok in Southeast Asia.
The government has stated that these actions were taken to curb provocative posts related to race, religion, and royalty. Despite this explanation, the increase in content restrictions raises concerns about freedom of speech and expression in Malaysia.