Malaysia says it arrested 240 Facebook users over terrorism

Move is part of efforts to prevent online radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said it has arrested 240 Facebook users and blocked 800 Facebook accounts so far to prevent online radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists.

Deputy Home Minister Masir Kujat told Parliament yesterday that the government is monitoring a further 3,871 Facebook accounts.

"These individuals are also using Twitter as a method of recruiting new members. We are monitoring 76 individuals, have arrested eight people and blocked nine accounts.

"A total of 72 people are also being monitored on Instagram, with one arrested," he said in response to a supplementary question by a Barisan Nasional lawmaker Shabudin Yahaya.

He had expressed concern over the safety of online users who were at risk of being exposed to terror ideology.

Mr Shabudin had also asked the minister on the success rate of Malaysia's deradicalisation programme, reported the New Straits Times.

Mr Masir said 19 individuals are currently detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015.

"Through the deradicalisation programme, it will allow the detainees, 18 Malaysians and one foreigner, to rejoin the community. Of these, nine detainees are currently in the fourth phase, the last stage before they are released."

In a separate development, the Malaysian government said it had sought views from social media platform providers as part of its effort to draft a new law to combat fake news.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said said a discussion was held on Monday with Internet giants Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, as well as the Asia Internet Coalition, an industry association made up of leading Internet and technology companies including Yahoo!, LinkedIn and Google, The Star reported.

"The meeting was held as a measure to get more views and input from the main players in this new media sector, in line with the Government's effort to introduce a law on fake news," she said .

She said the meeting was vital to ensure that the law being drafted is comprehensive and covers all aspects.

"It also is proof that the government is inclusive in coming up with policies or laws," she added.

Ms Azalina, who heads the special committee on fake news that is drafting the new law, said it would curb fake news that threatens public order and national security.

"The law drafted will also protect society from becoming victims of fake news. I believe it can curb the global phenomenon of fake news and false information from becoming viral and cancerous to the nation," she said.