In Malaysia, Twitter is being used to meter out justice. In fact, a judge recently ordered a man to Tweet his apology in a defamation case, marking the first time social media has been used a weapon to punish offenders. This has sent a chill through those who use social media in Malaysia where law makers have warned people to watch what they write on blogs or post in their Facebook status streams. Because of this crack down on social media users the effect has been to reduce the interest in social media for the average person in Malaysia. This over all cooling effect means fewer people online using social media and fewer opportunities for businesses to market to them. So, the positive economic impact we have seen from social media here in the United States will be (at for now) denied to Malaysia.
The penalty has sparked debate among Internet users about the pitfalls of social media in Malaysia, where authorities have repeatedly warned people to be more cautious about they write on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Fahmi Fadzil, an opposition politician’s aide and respected commentator on social issues, claimed on Twitter in January that his pregnant friend had been poorly treated by her employers at a magazine run by BluInc Media.
Fahmi wrote an apology to BluInc on Twitter a few hours after making that allegation, but the company’s lawyers later sent him a letter demanding unspecified financial damages for defamation and another apologyin major newspapers, said Fahmi’s lawyer, Syahredzan Johan.
Syahredzan said Fahmi settled the case this week by agreeing to apologize 100 times over three days on Twitter, where he has more than 4,200 followers. Syahredzan declined to say who suggested the terms.
“I’ve DEFAMED Blu Inc Media and Female Magazine. My tweets on their (human resource) policies are untrue. I retract those words and hereby apologize,” Fahmi tweeted in a series of identical postings that started Thursday and were repeated about every 30 minutes.
BluInc’s legal firm said the lawyer handling the case could not immediately be contacted. Officials at the publishing company familiar with the matter were also not available for comment. BluInc publishes more than 20 lifestyle and health magazines in Malaysia.
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