Amendments to Evidence Act for social media

What are the amendments to the Evidence Act mean for social media users?

The Evidence Act 1950 was recently amended which will affect almost every Malaysian who has a Facebook account. This article seeks to explain what the implications are and how it will affect you as a social media user in Malaysia.

The amendments stipulate that account owners of Facebook will not be held responsible if they are found with any defamatory statements posted by others. This is most evident if your wall is very much ‘open’ to others and where sharing of information is concerned.

Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department clarified that such acts cannot be applied under Section 114(a) of the Evidence Act 1950 but if a Facebook user start spreading any sort of publication which are deemed defamatory in full knowledge that they are aimed at discrediting or throwing the ruling government, then they will be accountable.

Essentially, this means that the new amendment which comes under the Evidence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 2012 through the insertion of Section 114(a) anything or everything that are posted under your name in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter would mean that you are the owner and the host, unless proven otherwise.

Typically, you will have to prove that you are not the owner or the one who posted the defamatory publication which would excuse you off any responsibilities. If there is a clear fact and evidence that the postings were not made by you or someone ‘steals’ your account and start posting the defamatory statements in situations like losing your computer and such, then you are not liable.

If you cannot prove it, then under the Evidence Act, you will have to be liable and could be charged for posting defamatory statements. Hence, be very certain whoever is accessing your account or computer and ensure that you know what is being posted and such because the law stipulates that you have a moral obligation to ensure that nothing defamatory comes from your Facebook profile.

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