Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was banned in Thailand for few hours on Wednesday afternoon to prevent an anti-army protest from being staged. The information technology ministry of the country made the decision to block the social networking site.
Authorities demand cooperation from social media
Prior to blocking of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), digital television stations such as BBC and CNN were pulled down in Thailand after the military junta came to power in a coup. According to the Bangkok Post, 30 million accounts in the country were affected after the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) block, and users were not able to access the site for one and a half hours from 3 pm local time.
Users who tried to access their Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) pages on mobile or desktop devices received the error message, “Timed Out. Unable to connect to Facebook. Please check your connection and try again.”
Initially there were talks that the outage was due to some technical issue, but soon a ministerial official explained to Reuters that the action was premeditated.
Surachai Srisaracam, permanent secretary of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry, said in a statement to Reuters, “We have blocked Facebook temporarily and tomorrow we will call a meeting with other social media, like Twitter and Instagram, to ask for cooperation from them.”
He added that there is a campaign running asking people to protest against the army, so media co-operation would help the government to stop the flow of critical messages on the coup.
Facebook users express anger on Twitter
Following the block, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) users turned to Twitter to showcase their anger over the military. One user @LaureneMuayThai in Bangkok said that the military has blocked Facebook and that Thailand is getting more like China and North K by the second.
Another user with handle @iKirbylicious, posted the information that as of 3.45pm Facebook Thailand is blocked. However, some technically savoir-faire citizens claimed that they could access the site through a virtual private network or a proxy that hides the user’s location and make it appear he or she is somewhere else.
However, the site was available by 4:40 pm local time, and users were concerned that other sites would be blocked too. As soon as Facebook was back up, users flooded Twitter with the development.
Twitter user @Daniel–Fletcher joked, ‘‘Let’s get down to brass tacks here: Thailand blocks Facebook, military junta terrified of shirtless selfies.”