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Thai officials crackdown on “lèse majesté” social media pages and posts

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PHOTO: Line Today

In a crackdown on social media posts critical of the Thai Monarchy, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society says they plan to pursue legal action against Facebook and Twitter for failing to remove content that violates the country’s draconian lèse majesté law.

Social media users who make insulting posts about the Thai Monarchy can also be charged. So far, the ministry has identified 9 people they say are responsible for content shared online that violates Thailand’s laws.

Over the past year, numerous activists and protest leaders involved in the pro-democracy movement have been arrested for allegedly violating lèse majesté law, Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminals Code. Under the law, those who insult or defame the Thai Monarchy face 3 to 15 years in prison. 

Pro-democracy activists have been calling on government and monarchy reform, bringing up subjects and questions considered taboo and unprecedented in Thai society.

Many activists use Facebook and Twitter to share information about protests as well as their views on social and political issues. The ministry says they found 5,494 Facebook pages and 2,949 Twitter pages that “harbour illegal content.”

Facebook removed the 3,107 links. Twitter refused to remove 611 links, according to the Bangkok Post. Considering not all the pages in question were removed, the DES minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta says the ministry plans to take legal action on the social media sites for hosting material in Thailand’s domain that are said to violate the lèse majesté law.

From October to December, the DES also found 638 URLS that allegedly violated Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, which has been used to prosecute lèse majesté cases. Most of the links traced back to 26 internet accounts, according to Buddhipongse.

“We have identified nine individuals who are owners of these accounts. They are not new faces and have been charged with similar offences many times before.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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