It’s been a little over a week since the military took over Thailand. Under the pretext of maintaining peace in the country (after more than half a year of intense political instability), the junta has not only censored old media but also found ways to filter online content.
That could soon extend deeper into censorship of social media. According to Post Today, Thailand’s IT ministry plans to send a government representative to Singapore to talk to Facebook and Google, and another team to Japan to talk to NHN, the company behind the popular messaging app Line. The purpose is to ask for cooperation from these companies in order to shut down social media accounts on an individual basis.
This could be the Thai military’s way of suppressing social media without blocking entire websites – which would be an extremely unpopular move. Thailand has close to 30 million registered Facebook users.
Authorities in Thailand have already taken down or blocked 216 websites since the coup started. The country’s telecoms regulator has warned the people of Thailand about publishing social media content that could be deemed inflamatory or trouble-making. Last week, a Thailand-based representative of NHN Line stated that authorities haven’t contacted the company regarding censorship – but that looks set to change with delegations dispatched to meet with these social media titans.
Under the coup, the army doesn’t necessarily need to go directly to social media companies to request shutdowns. Instead, it can order ISPs to block access directly. The country’s ISPs were among the first groups summoned to meet with the coup leaders last week.