Remember the panic in Thailand on the afternoon of May 28 when Facebook was inaccessible for most people in the country? It came less than a week after the military coup that ousted the Prime Minister, and it left many Thai netizens concerned that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) could be blocked for the duration of the coup.
Even though the site reappeared in Thailand an hour after it vanished, mystery surrounded what exactly happened to Facebook – until today. This afternoon, Telenor (OTCMKTS:TELNY), the Norwegian company that runs Thai telco and ISP Dtac, issued a statement to The Next Web that reads:
Telenor Group can confirm that on Wednesday 28 May Dtac received a notification at 15:00 local time from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand to restrict access to Facebook temporarily.
This restriction, which was implemented at 15:35, potentially had impact on Dtac’s 10 million Facebook-using customers. Telenor Group believes in open communication and regrets the consequences this might have had for the people of Thailand.
Access to Facebook was restored at approximately 16:30 local time.
This is the first confirmation from a telco company of what happened that afternoon.
Tech in Asia contacted a Telenor representative in Bangkok who said the company “can’t confirm that other operators got the same request.” He declined to comment on the Facebook blockage. A representative of rival telco True said this afternoon that it was a technical glitch.
It’s unclear if Telenor’s statement will put Dtac in a difficult position with Thai authorities. The company actually confirmed the block on the day it happened to Reuters, but it was largely overlooked in the confusion of that day. “Telenor Group believes in open communication and regrets the consequences this might have had for the people of Thailand,” the company said on May 28.
A Thai news report today on Pantip about Telenor’s longer statement was later deleted from the site and replaced with a notice saying the content of the news story is illegal. Here’s a screencap.
Thailand’s military has clamped down on the internet and all forms of media after the coup, and over 200 websites have been blocked or forced to shut in the past few weeks.