Governments don’t appreciate the common man turning into a publisher with the help of social media. The recent government to believe in the ideology is the Thai Government, reports TNW. Thailand is cracking down on Facebook users, in particular those who post or even ‘like’ political rumours on the social network.
The news which was initially reported by The Washington Post which has come into light after four people have been summoned for allegedly causing panic by posting rumors of a possible military coup on Facebook — and an investigator threatened on Monday to charge anyone who even “liked” the postings on the social media site.
Among those summoned are Sermsuk Kasitipradit, the political editor of public television channel TPBS, and a local pro-government protest leader. The Facebook postings that were shared mentioned that the country could witness the possibility of a military coup and urged the public to hoard food and water.
Technology Crime Suppression division Chief Police Maj. Gen. Pisit Paoin briefed that the entries posted were false information that could damage the country. He also added that,
“Those who ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ the posts will also face charges, so we would like to ask the public to contemplate very carefully about the way they use social media.”
If found guilty the four people summoned could face up to five years in prison and a fine worth 100,000 baht ($3,200).
The officials and the army has dismissed rumours but the country is going through tensions since last week. The government is believed to deliberate on an amnesty bill this Wednesday which the citizens fear could allow exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of current Prime Minister Yingluck, to return to Thailand free of corruption charges. Thaksin was ousted in the 2006 coup and has been living in self-imposed exile.
Around 2,000 anti-government protesters gathered on Sunday to rally against the bill in Bangkok. Meanwhile the government has invoked the Internal Security Act in three districts in Bangkok in case of potential violence.
The act, in effect from Aug 1 to 10, authorizes officials to seal off roads, take action against security threats, impose curfews and ban the use of electronic devices in designated areas. Only peaceful and unarmed rallies are allowed under the law.
Thai Government has been opaque when it comes to Web censorship. It has followed the same path as China in removing false information and rumours almost as quickly as they are published.
It would be interesting to watch the Government’s next move in the mist of growing political tensions.
Image courtesy: rggooglemap