Malaysia will set up a digital unit to counter violent and extremist social media messages in the region in May, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

“We are adopting the same template used by the United States and the United Arab Emirates”, he said, which counters ISIS’ growing social media presence with alternative messages.

The Malaysian government will spend RM200 million (US$47 million) to set up the centre, which will serve other ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand.

“This centre will be a point of reference and synchronisation of efforts in countering terrorism effectively,” Minister Ahmad Zahid said.

“Malaysia was chosen to esta­blish the centre due to our commitment to combat terrorism through introducing new laws as well as providing avenues for rehabilitation and re-radicalisation of militants,” he added.

The centre will be run by the Police and Immigration Department, along with other law enforcement agencies.

This move follows news from Thailand, where the government’s cyber crimes unit plans to monitor targeted users on Facebook, Twitter and discussion forum Pantip.