Facebook has been ordered by Thai authorities to remove all posts that are critical of the monarchy or face consequences. In recent years, the Internet has become increasingly censored in Thailand, and now, the country is threatening the social media giant.
Facebook threatened with legal action
According to the Bangkok Post, the U.S. firm must remove critical posts by next Tuesday, or it will face legal action. The order comes from Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DE) and National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). The social networking site has to delete more than 130 items from pages viewable in the country, notes BBC.
Last Thursday, the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA) requested that the social media giant block 600 pages, of which 309 pages are blacklisted by the Criminal Court. Recently, TISPA noted that most of those pages had been removed, but over 131 of them still remain accessible in the country, notes CNET.
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Facebook says that it does consider requests from the governments to remove content, and it will comply if the content breaks any local laws.
Nothing can be said against the monarchy
In Thailand, the monarchy is accorded huge respect. Any comment that is critical of the monarchy can lead to prosecution under the country’s strict lese-majeste law. People convicted of being critical of the monarchy face long prison sentences. Lese-majeste complaints can be filed by anyone against anyone.
Article 112 of the criminal code of Thailand says that any person who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” will be punished with up to 15 years in prison.
Thailand’s military government, which seized power in 2014, has made great efforts to suppress all kinds of criticism of the monarchy in the country. People who are caught liking and sharing Facebook posts deemed critical of the monarchy have been prosecuted, notes the BBC. In addition, thousands of websites have been blocked.
Last year, Thailand’s deputy prime minister said that Google assented to cooperate with the removal of online content offending the country’s monarchy. At that time, the U.S. firm said it was following its current policies on content removal.
“When we are notified of content that is illegal through official processes, we will restrict it in the country where it’s illegal after a thorough review,” the search giant said.
Thailand tightens control over the Internet
Thailand has been tightening its grip on cyberspace by increasing control of content posted online. Last month, the country also started a new campaign to block websites with content it considers undesirable.
According to Freedom House, Thailand has been restricting Internet freedom over the last couple of years. Further, it tagged the country’s net status as “Not Free” last year, notes CNET. Shrugging off such concerns in December, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that this control over what is being posted online is meant to fight “those who violate the law.”