The Thai government has given social media giant Facebook Inc. until Tuesday,16 May to remove content they deem threatening to its national security or in violation of its lese majeste laws.
The military government has increased online censorship since the 2014 coup. In particular, “perceived insults” to the monarchy or monarch.
According to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, Facebook refused to remove 131 out of 309 website addresses that violated the strict laws or national security. Therefore, by remaining active, these sites are committing a crime by, as explained by Reuters, they have continued to: “defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne or regent.”
In total, there were approximately 6,900 sites ordered by the Thai government to be removed. Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the commission, told Reuters he had given Facebook until 16 May to remove the sites.
“If Facebook still shows content declared illegal by court orders in Thailand, action must be taken against Facebook Thailand.”They could argue that they are not involved (in removing content), but Facebook Thailand is still operating here.”
“They could argue that they are not involved (in removing content), but Facebook Thailand is still operating here.”
Further steps would be taken if Facebook doesn’t comply. The Ministry of Digital Economy would file a complaint with the police pressing charges against Facebook Thailand. Their rationale? It can be done under the Computer Crime Act and commerce ministry regulations. Search warrants for Facebook Thailand may also be obtained.
Facebook has refused to comment on its affiliate Facebook Thailand. Facebook’s policy regarding removing content, as explained by Reuters is to: “first determine whether the content violates local laws before it proceeds to restrict access in the relevant country.” It blocked 50 pieces of content in 2016 there that were foundto violate local laws.
Royal Central will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.