KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 – The Communications and Multimedia Content Forum ( Content Forum) on Monday announced that it has registered the revamped Content Code 2022, a set of guidelines outlining best practices and standards for online content.
The Content Forum, which comes under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), said the revamped code was incorporated with feedback from multiple stakeholders and is aimed at fostering a robust content landscape in Malaysia where freedom of expression and responsibility can seamlessly coexist.
First established in 2004, the Content Code is a set of guidelines outlining best practices and ethical standards for the creation and curation of content.
Last year, the Content Forum embarked on a mission to revamp the entire Content Code to ensure it was aligned with global best practices for the benefit of both the local content industry and all Malaysians.
This initiative included a massive nationwide Public Consultation Exercise that took place from September through to December 2021, where everyone was given the opportunity to contribute to this revamped version of the Content Code.
“We are very happy with the fact that this Content Code is a result from the contribution of everyone, and not just our members or industry players. These days, everyone is a content consumer as well as a content creator, so it makes absolute sense for everyone to be involved in the revamping of the Content Code. It enabled us to address various policy gaps,” said Content Forum’s Executive Director Mediha Mahmood in a press statement Monday.
“Feedback from members of the public helped the Content Forum to identify several concerns that have been growing recently. This includes the need to improve accessibility of content for Persons with Disabilities (PWD), to curtail abuse of religion in advertising and to require influencer marketing to adhere by the same standards expected from other advertisers,” she said.
The Content Code 2022 primarily includes a review of the best standards and practices relating to electronic content, particularly in relation to advertising, as well as broader implications for various segments of society. It identifies eight key focus areas, including:
- Upholding Rights of Children in Advertising
- Upholding Rights of PWD
- Ensuring Ethical Reporting of Suicide Cases
- Addressing Abuse of Religion in Advertisements
- Prohibition against Online Abuse and Gender-Based Violence
- Addressing False Content and its Impact on the Community
- Ensuring Influencers and Online Marketplaces are Guided by Advertising Guidelines
- Requiring Disclosure of Advertisements from Influencers and Paid-for Space In News
Kenny Ong, Chairman of the Content Forum said that the new updated Content Code could not have come at a better time as the growing number of content creators would benefit greatly from self-regulating their own content, using the updated Content Code as their guideline.
“Besides providing a greater, more comprehensive resource for everyone in the content ecosystem to practice self-regulation, these eight key focus areas in the Content Code 2022 are reflective of the changing and evolving times, while highlighting the crucial need to uphold the rights, security and welfare of various segments of the community and stakeholders including women, children, consumers and people with disabilities,” said Kenny.
Meanwhile, MCMC lauded the efforts of the Content Forum.
“We recognize the Content Forum’s commitment to engage in continuous and meaningful dialogue with all relevant stakeholders – which is evident in the formation of this revised Content Code. We trust that this ensures the Content Code remains not only relevant, but also progressive. This is also in line with the greater vision of the MCMC to establish an industry that is competitive, efficient and increasingly self-regulating to stay ahead of changing times. We hope there is greater awareness of self-regulation via the Content Code as it is also used as a reference for the interpretation of offences under Section 211 and Section 233 of the CMA98,” said MCMC.
The CMA98 refers to content which is “indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character”, and the Content Code provides a better understanding of what these elements can be interpreted to mean. For example, under Content Code 2022, irresponsible and unethical sharing of news relating to suicide would be considered as ‘menacing’ as it poses a risk of suicide contagion.
The progressive nature of the new Content Code is also reflected in several of its new provisions, for example, the use of virtual influencers. In addressing the requirement for all advertisements to be designed and presented in such a way that it is clear they are advertisements, a new provision is introduced requiring that the use of virtual influencers must be disclosed to consumers to ensure that they are not misled into believing that they are interacting with a real human being.
Content Code 2022 was officially registered and effective on 9 June 2022 and can be found on https://www.mcmc.gov.my/skmmgovmy/media/General/registers/Content-Code-2022.pdf .