19 February 2021

5 Reader Comments Just Cost a News Website $124,000

The New York Times

A panel of judges found the online outlet, Malaysiakini, guilty of contempt of court for the comments about Malaysia’s judiciary.

Like many online news outlets, the Malaysian news site Malaysiakini allows readers to post comments at the bottom of articles. That proved expensive on Friday, when a Malaysian court ruled that the news site was legally responsible for reader comments deemed insulting to the judiciary.

A seven-judge appeals court panel found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt of court and ordered it to pay a fine of nearly $124,000, more than double the amount sought by prosecutors, for five comments left by readers. The news outlet’s co-founder and editor in chief, Steven Gan, who was acquitted of the same charge, said the hefty penalty appeared to be an attempt to drive Malaysiakini out of business.

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