Think Twice Before Hitting The Tweet Button

15 April 2020

We live in a new era where, instead of morning coffee, people are also getting fueled by instant news. Especially with the uprising of social media, the landscape of news consumption is changed forever, and long gone are the days where people solely obtain and absorb the news by way of traditional channels such as newspapers and radio.

Instead of getting first-hand news from newspapers, mainstream social media platforms such as Twitter found a way to enable everyone to circulate and viral any news faster than ever. This ability, conveniently, allows everyone to play the role of a social media journalist and to cover the latest news in real-time without getting into the long, tedious writing and editing process, and the voice of any ordinary person may now be heard by thousands within split seconds. With that being said, one should still think twice before hitting the Tweet button.

In accordance with Section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, a person who knowingly, by way of network facilities or services, creates or initiates the transmission of any comment, communication or suggestion which is false, menacing or offensive with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass any person, may be found liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000-00, or to imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, and shall also be liable to a further fine of RM1,000-00 for every day during which the offense is continued after conviction.

‘Twitter user to be charged for insulting the King online’, reported by The Star Online, where a Twitter user was arrested and expected to be charged under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for tweeting insulting and offensive tweets against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Albeit the freedom of speech and the convenience coupled with social media where everyone could leverage on, one must not take such freedom and convenience delicately, as ‘free speech does not mean free speech; it means speech hedged in by all the laws against defamation, blasphemy, sedition and so forth; it means freedom governed by law”, famously stated in James v Commonwealth of Australia [1936] AC 578.

1. Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 | 2. Sedition Act 1948 | 3. James v Commonwealth of Australia [1936] AC 578