Malaysia outraged at Meta takedown of media's Facebook posts on PM's Hamas meeting

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets with Malaysia's PM Anwar Ibrahim, in Berlin

By Danial Azhar

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's communications minister expressed outrage at Meta Platforms on Tuesday, demanding it explain why it had taken down Facebook posts by local media covering the prime minister's meeting this week with a Hamas leader.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim met Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Qatar on Monday and later stressed that though he had good relations with the group's political leaders, he had no involvement in its military apparatus.

Muslim-majority Malaysia, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, has sent a letter asking Meta to explain the takedown of posts by two media organisations about Anwar's meeting, and closed the Facebook account of a third outlet covering Palestinian issues.

"I condemn Meta's actions of removing posts, especially since they were in relation to the prime minister's official visit to Qatar," Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who is also government spokesperson, told a regular briefing.

"What I regret is that these actions were taken by an organisation based in the United States, and it's clear that they do not respect the freedom of media outlets in using their platform."

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Malaysia's request.

Last October, Fahmi warned firm action could be taken against Meta and other social media firms if they were blocking pro-Palestinian content on their platforms.

Malaysia has long advocated a two-state solution for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meta at the time said it was not deliberately suppressing voices on its Facebook platform, adding there was "no truth" to the claim it was restricting content supporting the Palestinians.

Meta designates Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs Gaza, as a "dangerous organisation" and bans content praising the group. It also uses a mix of automated detection and human review to remove or label graphic visuals.

(Reporting by Danial Azhar; Editing by John Mair, Martin Petty)