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Facebook Plans Legal Route Over Demand By Thai Government To Block A Group

Facebook Plans Legal Route Over Demand By Thai Government To Block A Group
Legal action is being planned against a demand by Thailand authorities that forced the largest social media company Facebook to block a group that was considered by the country’s authorities to be critical of the monarchy of the country, said Facebook.
"After careful review, Facebook has determined that we are compelled to restrict access to content which the Thai government has deemed to be illegal," a company spokesperson said in a statement to the media. This as inference to a demand from the company by the authorities of the country to block from users in Thailand Royalist Marketplace – a group that had about 1 million members that primarily posted messages about the Thai royal family.  
The Thai government has been pressurizing Facebook to impose certain restrictions on political speech in the country, the company said, and added that the government had even threatened to initiate criminal proceedings against the representatives of the social media platform in Thailand.
Legal action of its own is now being considered by it, the company said.
"Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people's ability to express themselves," the spokesperson said. "We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request."
Facebook has been in discussions on the issue with Thailand's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. No comments from the Ministry on the issue were available.
A maximum of 15 year jail sentence can be given to those who allegedly defame the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent under Thai law. But in recent times, that law has been extensively used a political weapon as the law allows Thai citizens as well as the government to bring in allegations and charges on behalf of the King.
In recent days, in the country's capital, Bangkok, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets despite the law and its alleged misuse demanding reforms be brought in the monarchy of the country.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an exiled Thai dissident based in Japan, had started the Royalist Marketplace on Facebook. In a report published by the news agency Reuters, he said that  Facebook was "cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand."
This is the latest incident where the social media company has come to odds with governments in different parts of the world. For example, the activities and policies of the company imposed in India are being investigated following a report published week in the Wall Street Journal that claimed that the company allowed a politician from India's ruling party to remain on the platform despite his alleged violation of hate speech rules of the company.
In its home country of the United States, there has been controversy over the company deciding to label some posts by President Donald Trump and taking down posts by his campaign.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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