Cyberbullying is a serious issue in Malaysia, impacting numerous young individuals. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that three out of ten young Malaysians have been victims of cyberbullying, with youths being the highest number of victims. This alarming trend underscores the negative side effects of online communication when social media platforms are misused.

Social media platforms have features that can lead to cyber threats or cyberbullying, allowing users to post or share opinions, feedback, or comments—positive or negative—anonymously. Cyberbullies, often hiding behind faceless profiles, continue to disparage and attack their targets without empathy.

In the virtual world, some individuals have lost the cultural values of politeness and decency, becoming insensitive, abusive, and lacking compassion. They feel emboldened to bully others by sending harmful, hateful, or irritating messages.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recorded 3,199 complaints related to cyberbullying in 2023, addressing and closing 93% of these cases. MCMC also removed 1,763 items last year through collaborations with social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Centre, many high-profile suicide cases are linked to cyberbullying, with nearly 20% of victims resorting to suicide to end their torment. Cyberbullying has devastating long-term effects on victims, affecting their mental health, emotions, concentration, social skills, trust, and behaviour.

If you find yourself as a victim of cyberbullying, it is important to take action. Here are some steps to follow:

Superintendent Junainah M. Kasbolah heads the Classified Crime Investigation Unit under Bukit Aman's Prosecution/Law Section, which specializes in investigating issues related to race, religion, and royalty (3R). She explains that authorities currently rely on Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) to address cyber-related cases.

Section 233 states that an individual commits an offense if they knowingly transmit any comment, request, suggestion, or other communication that is obscene, indecent, false, menacing, or offensive, with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person. A person convicted under this section can be fined up to RM50,000 or face a maximum prison term of one year. The Act encompasses obscene, indecent, false, menacing, or hurtful content.

“We have to look at the content, be it in the form of a video, text, or message,” Kasbolah told StarMetro. “We will then determine if the content is offensive before further action can be taken.”

Under Section 233, offenders can be fined not more than RM50,000 or imprisoned for up to one year, or both. Additionally, the offender can be fined RM1,000 for each day the offense continues after conviction.

At present, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) does not have a specific category for cyberbullying, according to its Network Security Division head, Harme Mohamed. This highlights the need for more precise legislation to address and penalize cyberbullying effectively.

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As we all know, prevention is better than cure. And when it comes to cyber bullying, we need to take a stand and put a stop to it for good. The Internet may be a vast space, but it is not a place for bullying.

Source / Image Credit : Cyber999, NST, The Star, Bernama