Politics Social Networks

Did Facebook really block Zunar’s cartoon of Rosmah? [UPDATE]

UPDATE: The MCMC got back to us ugaiz. Here’s their answer:

“MCMC works closely with all social media platform providers, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to remove content that have breached Malaysian laws. Social media providers however will still apply their own terms and conditions of service before proceeding to remove the content on their platforms.

The determination will be based on whether the said content has breached Malaysian laws. MCMC from time to time receive requests from other authorities such as Royal Malaysia Police, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism on removing content that have breached Malaysian laws that are under their purview.

Facebook may remove content based on complaints by its users. Complaints can also be made to Facebook or any social media platform provider without having to go through MCMC.” – from the MCMC to CILISOS in an email

So it looks like there are 3 people who can determine what gets blocked on Facebook…

  1. The MCMC/the government who works with Facebook on what can be allowed and what can’t
  2. Facebook (and other social media networks) based on their own T&Cs
  3. Users…if they flag or complain against any post, it can get taken down

– – –

Oh snap, Zunar’s cartoon got blocked on Facebook! In fact, they might even block us now coz we used the word ‘Facebook’ in the title (which just goes to show how strict Facebook is with boosting stuff).

Okla this is abit old news, on 20 Oct when he tried to upload a cartoon Rosmah called ‘Plan B (ini) on Zeti’, it was blocked half an hour after it was uploaded. He tried to upload it again with a different file name, but that also tak jalan.

Before we go on… here’s the cartoon:

Zunar's cartoon rosmah bank negara block. Image from Zunar.my.

This is the one that was blocked. Image from Zunar.my

At the moment, Zunar is in the UK to speak about his plight at Write for Rights 2015 – a campaign that highlights threats to freedom of expression around the world.

Ironically, they’ll be featuring some of his cartoons as part of the Gillray’s Ghost exhibition. James Gillray is an 18th-century cartoonist known as the ‘Father of Political Cartoons’. And trust us, his cartoons are like x100 ruder than Zunar’s!

Back home, poor Zunar is possibly facing 43 years in jail on sedition charges already with the court case set next month, yet they can’t stop him, so have they resorted to blocking his stuff directly? Well the government has banned 18 of his cartoon books, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they did this now.

*Chup guys, before we move on, the cartoon has since been allowed back on Facebook (6 Nov our last check). 


HUH!? The government can block Facebook?!

government block facebook basketball

Access DENIED!!! Image from wildcatbluenation.com

YES… they totes can IF they wanted to! In fact, we’ve written an article on 5 ways the government can censor sites.

We reached out to the MCMC to ask about Zunar’s cartoon. Unfortunately, they didn’t really give us the answers we were looking for. In fact, they didn’t really give us any answers and insisted we send email (which they haven’t replied up to now). Like the time we contacted them on banning the words ‘Merdeka’ and ’58’ in ads). So we dunno if they had a hand in this one onot (but we’ll update once they reply, k).

*The MCMC has since gotten back to us. Scroll all the way to the start to read their response.

This wouldn’t be the first case of Facebook blockage in the country. Once a DAP supporters group got blocked – though MCMC did not claim responsibility for it. Scarier still, the government threatened to ban Facebook ENTIRELY after someone posted a photo which insulted the Agong. Thank goodness it’s not happening!  Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek admitted it would be “radical and quite impossible” anyway.

But if it wasn’t the gomen that blocked Zunar’s cartoon, that could only mean…


It was Facebook… that blocked Zunar??!

facebook removed something you posted ban censor. Image from social fixer.com.

Image from social fixer.com

Alamak why Mark Zuckerberg advocate free speech, then for Facebook block the cartoon pulak? You might already know that Facebook censors certain things, if you’re one of those guys who goes through every itty-bitty detail of the T&C page before you sign up for an account. But the rule only sez:

“You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” – from Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

Zunar’s cartoon is neither of these…

But the truth is, Facebook does bend to government rules. Mark Zuckerberg’s speech on free speech (below) gave us a clue. And also coz it’s mentioned in their terms of service page too.

Mark Zuckerberg facebook post free speech country laws

Taken from Mark Zuckerberg’s FB page

Only one way to find out… we contacted Facebook! And here’s their answer:

“The image was mistakenly captured by our spam filter and has now been restored. We are sorry for the error and inconvenience caused.” – Facebook spokesperson to CILISOS

Ohhh wowww a bit anti-climax lah.

But actually right… loads of CILISOS stuff gets caught in their spam filter also. We know for sure for instance…

  • You can’t use images with too much flesh (no, really… you try!)
  • You can’t buy promoted posts for images with more than 20% text
  • You can’t buy promoted posts for anything with the word Facebook in it (which means this article might need to change title oso).


TBH, it’s impossible for Facebook to have compleeeetely freedom of speech

Image from Jeff Chiu, AP Photo, taken from irelandstechnologyblog.com

But Facebook’s mission is to be more open wor. Image from Jeff Chiu, AP Photo, taken from irelandstechnologyblog.com

In a Q&A session in Colombia, Mark Zuckerberg was asked this question: Would Facebook ever break the law in a country that did not guarantee freedom of speech? His answer?

“In an ideal world, there would be way fewer laws restricting speech. The reality is, most countries do have laws restricting freedom of speech. The real question is, how do you navigate this.” – Mark, Digits from the WSJ

In other words, no.

At the end of the day, Facebook is a business. It’s under no obligation to be a 100% free speech space. It tries its best to clarify the boundaries on what’s banned and why, but that’s subjective and everyone would have their own idea of what should or shouldn’t be banned, which will never make everyone happy.

Thankfully, that won’t stop guys like Zunar from trying to push those boundaries, both for Facebook and for freedom of speech in Malaysia.

“You can ban my cartoon, you can ban my book, but you cannot ban my mind” – Zunar


Is GIANT wrong to sell sharks at RM9.99/kg? (we ask Giant and the founder of Sharksavers.org)


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