The power of social media platforms to capture public attention is something that politicians, celebrities and everyday people have been utilising, as has been well documented over the past several years. However, the potential reputational and legal risks associated with content that ‘goes viral’ on such platforms has increased exponentially in recent times. As the Malaysian Insider reported, photos of naked men that were taken in Sabah’s Kinabalu Park have circulated through Facebook and landed in the hands – or under the eyes – of Malaysian authorities. Sabah Parks' Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment has said that tourists to the islands will be required to acknowledge and abide by local regulations, by way of declaration forms. These would act as an accountability measure to ensure that tourists are made aware of local customs, where the tourism industry has failed to do so, and discount any offending tourists’ claims that they ‘did not know’ that nudity is forbidden.
As the Daily Mail reported, Islamic rules relating to nudity forbid men and women being seen naked by others, with the exclusion of married couples. Anyone parading in the nude and posing for photographs in public, would thus be breaching Islamic laws that rule over the Sabah Park region. As the Malay Mail Online reported, one man has been arrested, and will be investigated, in response to authorities becoming aware of a separate set of images containing nudity taken on a Sabah island earlier this year, and published on social media.
It serves as yet another reminder of the risks associated with social media use.