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12 May 2017

Facebook faces flak for content critical of Thailand monarchy

Facebook gets ultimatum from Thailand government

In Thailand, there is no room for dissent under the lese-majeste law.

The military regime has gone to great lengths to curb any form of criticism, which can be deemed disrespectful to the royal family of the country, on social media platforms or otherwise.

Facebook has now been instructed to remove such content, or face consequences.

Here's all you need to know about it.

In context

Facebook gets ultimatum from Thailand government
Compliance with the norms


Compliance with the norms

Facebook has now been given a final notice to remove 130 disrespectful items from pages that are viewable in Thailand or face criminal charges from the administration.

In Thailand after the military coup of 2014, numerous websites have been blocked, and people who have been found guilty of creating, distributing/approving content considered unflattering to the sovereignty, have been indicted under the draconian law.


What is Lese-majeste?

According to Lese-majeste, anyone that "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent" is punishable and can be subjected to upto 15 years of jail time.

However, there is no clear indication on what constitutes as inflammatory.

The criminal code has remained unchanged since its inception in 1908; however, the penalty has increased greatly.

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A draconian law in every sense


A draconian law in every sense

The Lese-majeste gives everyone the provision to file a complaint and get someone formally investigated by the police.

It would not need a radical upheaval or a major misdemeanor to get a criminal sentence, just liking or sharing a post on social media platform will suffice.

The trials are conducted in secrecy and most of the defendants plead guilty, to escape a heavy sentence.


Google faced the same flak

Previously Google had come under the ire of the Thailand government when objectionable material, critical of the monarchy, was found in the search engine of the tech giant and on YouTube.

Google complied by saying that, "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."

Incidents that have come to light


Incidents that have come to light

In 2007, a Swiss national got a ten-years sentence for spray-painting posters of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, while inebriated.

In 2011, a sexagenarian got 20 years, for sending text messages deemed offensive to the queen.

15-years of jail time was awarded to a guilty citizen for posting images on Facebook of Bhumibol's favorite dog, that apparently mocked the king according to the prosecutor.

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