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Thailand threatens to block Facebook

Thai authorities threatened to block Facebook on Tuesday if the social network giant does not remove content that is deemed threatening to national security or offensive to the royal family.

The military junta, which has increased internet censorship since assuming power in the May 2014 coup, demanded, through the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, that Facebook removes 131 posts on its site by Tuesday morning, or face legal action, Efe news reported.

The Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA) warned Facebook’s subsidiary company in Thailand that it would disconnect the content delivery network (CDN) originating Facebook’s server if the social media company failed to comply with the Thai government’s request.

Last week, TISPA sent an email notifying Facebook executives in Thailand about the Thai government’s demand.

The internet service providers, represented by TISPA, admitted they are under government pressure and that the military junta has demanded the closure of the distribution network to block illegal materials.

“This action may affect the entire delivery services of www.facebook.com to customers in Thailand,” TISPA said in an email published in the Bangkok Post on Tuesday.

According to the authorities, about 6,900 websites and online posts have been blocked in the country since 2015.

In April, the government ordered a prohibition on any online contact with the three critics of the royal family, threatening criminal consequences to those interacting with them.

Thailand’s lese-majeste laws are among the strictest in the world, with up to 15 years of imprisonment to those who disseminate messages the authorities consider offensive to the royal family.

About 105 people have been arrested under the lese-majeste charges after the 2014 coup, 49 of whom have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, and another 64 are in custody awaiting trial.

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