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Facebook survives Thailand's threat over blacklisted pages

Thailand is going back on its threat last week to take legal action against the platform if it didn't remove all "illegal" content by today.


Facebook hasn't removed all content blacklisted in Thailand, but local authorities have gone back on legal threats made last week.

Jaap Arriens, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Thailand last week gave Facebook an ultimatum: Shut down all pages deemed illegal by Tuesday or face repercussions.

Although 131 Facebook pages blacklisted by the local Criminal Court remain accessible today, it seems the platform will not be dealt any legal consequences in Thailand even after the deadline set by authorities has passed, reports Reuters.

After Facebook had taken down over 170 pages, Thai authorities last week gave the social media giant until 10 a.m. Tuesday (Monday 7 p.m. PT) to remove 131 remaining pages deemed illegal in the country, failing which legal action would be taken. In Thailand, where internet censorship is not uncommon, "illegal" content includes that which is seen as a threat to national security or to violate the lese majeste rule, which prohibits any form of insult to Thai royalty.

The secretary-general of Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Takorn Tantasith, said authorities have obtained court orders that would require Facebook to close 34 of the 131 remaining pages, Reuters reported. If it complies, 97 pages will remain accessible, with court orders having been sought for these too.

"When we receive such a request," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, "we review it to determine if it puts us on notice of unlawful content. If we determine that it does, then we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory and notify people who try to access it why it is restricted."

The hubbub led to fears Facebook could be banned in the country, but Morakot Kulthamyothin, president of the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA), told local reporters that plans to shut down Facebook "haven't [been] discussed," according to Reuters.

Thailand wouldn't be the first to block access to Facebook if local authorities eventually decide to shut down the platform: Eight countries have banned the platform, most notably China, although the country has a local version.

CNET has reached out to NBTC and TISPA for comment but did not receive a response.

Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms in Thailand, with more than 40 million users reported in March. But it has faced public backlash after a live video of a father killing his baby daughter in the country emerged. The company's ties with local authorities took a turn for the worse when videos of the new Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn wearing a crop top went viral on the platform.

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