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Facebook To Face Legal Actions From Thai Digital Ministry Over Illegal Content

Thai Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to prosecute Facebook after it failed to follow Thai court orders

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Chatwan Mongkol
Chatwan Mongkol
A freelance journalist based in Bangkok, Thailand covering Thai politics

THAILAND. Bangkok. After Facebook failed to remove content that violated Thai laws, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) Minister Puttipong Punnakanta threatened to prosecute the Social media site for violating the Thai Computer Crime Act. 

Punnakanta posted on his Facebook page on July 30 that the MDES requested Facebook to remove 4,767 URLs with court orders. While only 1,316 URLs were taken down by Facebook which is around only 20% of the total.

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“Any foreign platform providing services for people or doing business in Thailand must respect Thai laws,” Punnakanta wrote on his post.

He also said that in the past seven months, the MDES has been monitoring online content that violates Thai laws. On July 23, The court issued an order for the removal of 7,164 URLs, in which over 4,000 URLs belonged to Facebook.

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While YouTube removed around 90% of what was requested, Facebook removed only 20% of the illegal content on its platform. Punnakanta expressed his disappointment against Facebook as it has not cooperated with the local laws.

“Facebook could be fined up 200,000 Baht (around 6,400 USD), and up to 5,000 Baht (around 160 USD) daily for the number of days it fails to follow Thai court orders,” said the minister.

Facebook mistranslated King’s birthday post

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On July 28, on the occasion of the Thai King’s 68th birth anniversary, Facebook’s automatic translation system mistranslated English-to-Thai descriptions during a news channel’s live Facebook broadcast of the King’s birthday ceremony. As per Khaosod English report, the mistranslated message might be offensive for many in Thailand.

In Thailand, one can face up to 15 years in prison when criticizing or insulting the monarchy due to the lèse-majesté law.  

The MDES minster said he immediately sent a letter to Facebook after the incident. Thai PBS World reported that Facebook offered an apology to the Thai people and has temporarily disabled the English-to-Thai automatic translation feature. However, Punnakanta thinks it wasn’t enough and the ministry will prosecute Facebook.

“We have to take legal action because such misinformation could create social chaos and disharmony,” Punnakanta said.

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