Deadline for Facebook to Remove ‘Illicit’ Content Passes in Thailand

Bangkok: Facebook faces a closure order in Thailand as a deadline lapsed for the social media giant to remove content, including posts critical of the monarchy.

The government threatened Facebook last week with legal action unless it removed 131 “illicit” pages by 10 am local time on Tuesday morning, reported the Guardian.

However, the Bangkok Post reported that the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (Tispa) may also disconnect access to Facebook’s servers.

It cited an email purportedly sent from Tispa to the managing director of Facebook Thailand warning that if the company does not remove all 131 pages, “concerned authorities will request that we shut down” access to the site.

“This action may affect the entire delivery services of to customers in Thailand,” Tispa said in the email, according to the Bangkok Post.

But Facebook was still accessible in Thailand on Tuesday after the deadline. A spokesperson of the firm said it reviews requests by governments to restrict access to content.

The Thai government has not publicly released details of which posts it wants removed.

Several images and a video appearing to show the 64-year-old Thai monarch wearing a crop top and covered in ornate tattoos have been published on social media during the past few weeks.

Facebook, which opened an office in Thailand in 2015, is the biggest social network in the country.

The military-run administration briefly cut access to Facebook after it launched a coup d’état on 22 May 22, 2014.

The royalist junta has dramatically ramped up online censorship, especially any posts or comment perceived to violate the country’s strict lèse majesté laws, meaning royal insult.

Sensitivity to public criticism of royal affairs was heightened after the much-loved former king died in October and his son, Maha Vajiralongkorn, took power.

With each offence punishable by up to 15 years in jail, more than 105 charges have been raised during the junta’s tenure, several of them related to sharing online posts.