Thailand backs off threat to block Facebook over content

Facebook could be facing legal action from the government of Thailand if it doesn't remove content that it believes criticizes its king.

The ruling military junta last week said it would ban the US social network if it did not disable Thailand-based users from being able to access a selection of 131 "illicit" posts, including content that violates lese majeste laws that prevent criticism of the royal family.

An incredibly freaky video of Thailand's king might see Facebook blocked in the country.

In 2016, Facebook blocked 50 pieces of content found to have violated the lese majeste law, following government requests.

"If the relevant Thai authorities find any illegal content from www.facebook.com in our system concerned authorities will request that we shut down the CDN of www.facebook.com", TIPSA said in a statement.

Thailand has strict laws against disparaging or criticising the monarchy, which they take very seriously - jail terms can run into the hundreds of years.

The nation's deadline for the removal of a video featuring King Maha Vajiralongkorn strutting around a mall in a yellow crop top from Facebook has come and gone unlike internet-based evidence of their ruler's bare stomach.

However, there would be no immediate measures to block Facebook, Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of Thailand's telecoms commission, told reporters, adding that bureaucracy had held up the process of removing the 131 impugned content items.

Maj. Gen. Ritthi Intharawut of the centre told The Post that 365 of them were on Facebook. Though the social networking website has not removed the video and other posts yet, the nationals are still enjoying FB posts and videos.

The king, who succeeded his father last December, has had a colourful personal life, although the severe lese-majeste law makes any discussion of the monarchy impossible inside Thailand.

Authorities said they held off from taking action as court orders were not delivered to Facebook in time.

In a separate report, the media also announced that Thailand had recently approved a new cyber security bill that is deemed as an invasion of privacy by critics.

Instead, Facebook has geoblocked these pages, meaning people outside of Thailand can still access them.

The military government has increased online censorship since the 2014 coup.

Facebook was ordered to take down more than 300 pages by today, but the Government said dozens remained online.

Most social media monitoring companies predict the number of users in Thailand has grown significantly since then.

  • Joey Payne