The Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission has published a set of guidelines for admins of chat groups. This comes on the heels of a statement by the deputy minister of communications and multimedia Jailani Johari, who said that admins of WhatsApp groups could be investigated for spreading fake news.
This new advisory from the MCMC outlines what a good chat group admin should do; which includes things like making sure that conversations stay on track, setting basic group rules, and cooperating with law enforcement agencies.
It also points out that constant absences, inciting inappropriate posts, and allowing conversations to go off topic make for a bad admin.
The MCMC issued a statement latest month explaining the situation between chat groups and section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. The private nature of communications through instant messaging apps was reaffirmed, and the Commission pointed out that these would only be investigated in the event that a formal complaint was lodged.
Section 233 makes it an offence to use any network service or application to make a comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person. Which is generally what the Malaysian government means when it talks about fake news.
That said, the MCMC has also clarified the situations in which a group admin may be held responsible for the posts made in the group. The list is largely reasonable, as it refers to when an admin himself posts offensive content, or does something to incite or invite such posts.
There’s no real penalty for failing to follow the advisory from the MCMC, seeing that it is largely a set of guidelines by which to act. Even then, the MCMC is not going to be spying on people to see if they are doing a good job of running a chat group.