By Rishi Iyengar, CNN Business & INN News
FACEBOOK said today (August 25) it is planning legal action against Thailand’s demand that forced the company to block a group deemed critical of the country’s monarchy.
“After careful review, Facebook has determined that we are compelled to restrict access to content which the Thai government has deemed to be illegal,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business, referring to its decision to block Royalist Marketplace — a group with 1 million members featuring posts about the Thai royal family — from users in Thailand.
Meanwhile a spokesperson of the Facebook team in Thailand told INN News that “Facebook works to protect and safeguard the rights of all Internet users and is preparing to proceed with the law on this request.”
News of the group being blocked was first reported by Reuters.
Facebook (FB) said it has been under pressure from the Thai government to restrict some types of political speech in the country, with the government threatening criminal proceedings against Facebook’s representatives in Thailand.
The company said it is now considering legal action of its own.
“Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves,” the spokesperson said. “We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request.”
Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, which Facebook said it has been in discussions with, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Royalist Marketplace was started by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an exiled Thai dissident based in Japan. Pavin did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN, but told Reuters that Facebook was “cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand.”
It’s the latest clash between Facebook and authorities around the world. The company is also facing parliamentary scrutiny in India, after a report last week by the Wall Street Journal revealed that a politician from India’s ruling party was allowed to remain on the platform despite flouting Facebook’s hate speech rules.
In the United States, Facebook’s decision to label some posts by US President Donald Trump and take down posts by his campaign have sparked further controversy.
Top: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: CNN