April 22, 2018 / 4:41 AM / 3 months ago

Malaysia says will look into bot activity on Twitter, upon complaints

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian regulators will look into the activity of automated accounts on Twitter, known as bots, in the run-up to a general election if they get complaints about them, the communications and multimedia minister said.

FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, Poland, September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

Reuters reported on Friday that bots were flooding Twitter with tens of thousands of pro-government and anti-opposition messages, just weeks before Malaysia’s May 9 election.

The information technology bureau of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, said it was not behind the bots and it did not know who was.

Communications Minister Salleh Said Keruak said on Twitter that bots could be used anonymously by anybody and his ministry would respond to complaints.

“As a regulator MCMC will work closely with providers such as Twitter and Facebook upon complaints,” Salleh said late on Saturday, referring to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

He did not refer to the Reuters report.

Twitter and Facebook are under scrutiny in the United States where lawmakers suspect their platforms were used as part of a suspected Russian effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favour of Donald Trump.

The Kremlin has denied the accusations.

Twitter allows bot accounts but with restrictions. In February, Twitter said it would no longer allow people to post identical messages from multiple accounts, cracking down on a tactic that Russian agents and others have allegedly used to make topics go viral.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Robert Birsel

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