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Thailand threatens Facebook with blackout over censorship demands

Thailand threatens Facebook with blackout over censorship demands

The government of Thailand is urging the country’s internet service providers to prevent their customers from accessing Facebook after the social media firm denied a government request to remove content.

Thailand’s Criminal Court last week ordered Facebook to remove 131 posts deemed illegal by the country’s authorities by Tuesday morning (May 16th), under threat of legal action. This order is the latest in a spate of censorship demands made by Thailand’s government over the past few months.

However, Facebook has argued that none of the offending pages are in violation of its “community standards” and has consequently not taken them down. Facebook was still accessible in Thailand an hour after Tuesday’s deadline.

The Bangkok Post reported that Facebook’s head of Thailand was told last Friday by the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA) and internet gateway providers that “if Thai authorities find any illegal content in our system – particularly the 131 URLs which have not yet been removed – concerned authorities will request that we shut down the CDN of www.facebook.com and other parts of the network to block such illegal content.”

Thai regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) noted that of the 309 posts that the government had deemed illegal, Facebook had complied in removing 178 of them. However, NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith noted that despite this cooperation, “some issues have not been solved”.

TISPA has emphasised that the government would be more inclined to shut down the site than take legal action, denying Facebook access to the social media firm’s 14.8 million Thai users.