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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Blocking news portals will backfire

Imposing bans on media sites are not as effective as they used to be and may only instead backfire on the government, a social media expert said today.

Referring to the recent ban on news portal The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia Social Media Chambers advisor Stephen Doss said there were better ways the government could adopt rather than outright banning.

"The Internet is not like what it used to be. The Insider is still accessible through their alternate webpage and even through their Facebook. The government has only hurt themselves more.

"I don't believe in banning a news site. I believe in managing the content and the perception of the news," he said when speaking during the Malaysia Social Media Week in Cyberjaya today.

Instead of silencing the media, Doss said the government should instead focus on countering its claims if they truly believed the reporting was inaccurate or misleading.

"If you're not able to counter an untruth, then there may actually be more truth than untruth to it," he said.

At the same time, Doss also claimed that in the policing the Internet, the authorities were working for the very people which governed them.

"That's why some people can get away with getting billions of ringgit that constitutes corruption while others can be charged for only stealing three coconuts," he noted.

Doss added that it was now generally accepted that politicians only wanted to hear what they wanted to hear and the government was not very receptive towards critical views.

He said where the government had previously been able to regulate what information was being disseminated, social media changed all that.

"Therefore, the government now has to make do with scrambling about with damage control," he said.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had on Feb 25 confirmed that it has blocked access to The Malaysian Insider.

However, it did not mention how the portal had flouted Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act which deals with abuse of communications networks.

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