The Federal Court’s verdict on Malaysiakini on the contempt of court concerning the readers’ comments has put a burden on small publishers to moderate comments effectively.

According to Sungai Buloh MP Sivarasa Rasiah (photo, above), the most logical way to deal with the issues surrounding comments is through a flag and takedown system as what is widely practised by social media platforms, notably by Facebook and Twitter.

To moderate each comment, he said, is an uphill task for many small publishers.

“Host or platform providers like Malaysiakini have to scrutinise every single comment, which is really impossible for many small-scale publishers, websites and so on.

“Everybody’s Facebook page and politician’s page are kind of liable to the comments, and this cannot be right,” Sivarasa said.

“You have to create a huge department to investigate or filter every comment or (the other option is) to take down the comment section, but the latter is going to be a step backwards.

“Facebook and Twitter operate on flags and takedown approaches. I think this is the most logical and fair way of dealing with the problem,” he said.

Sivarasa was speaking in an online discussion called “Contempt of Court: The Burden of Moderating Comments and Online Portals” organised by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

The discussion was aired through KLSCAH’s Facebook page.

Last month, the Federal Court fined Malaysiakini RM500,000 for contempt of court due to comments made by the news portal’s readers.

Contempt proceedings against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan were initiated by Attorney-General Idrus Harun. However, the Federal Court ruled that Gan was not guilty of the same charge.

Gan, who was also a panellist in the discussion, said that Malaysiakini is considering experimenting with a two-tier system for its comment section.

“For tier one, these are for commenters who have a track record of being responsible in their comments. They are able to post comments which won’t be moderated.

“As for tier two, these are the people who we are not familiar with, so they have to go through moderation. We may have to hire a few more moderators to go through their comments before we publish them,” he said.

Gan added: “I think this is the best way for us to strike a balance between our right to freedom of speech and many restricted laws that we have in Malaysia.”

Retrieved from Malaysiakini

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