Facebook failure rattles Thai internet users
Internet users in Thailand reported temporarily losing access to Facebook, sparking speculation the site had been blocked by the military. At the same time, the junta that seized power six days ago released leaders from the "red shirt" movement.
Facebook users reported that the service was inaccessible for about 45 minutes.
Surachai Srisaracam, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communication, denied the site had been blocked and said some users lost access due to a technical glitch. Surachai was earlier cited by Spring News as saying the site was blocked on orders from the junta.
Surachai said the ministry only blocked "problematic webpages" and that local media reports that he said Facebook had been ordered shut were due to "a misunderstanding".
Charlene Chian, Facebook's Singapore-based head of communications for the region, said the company was investigating the situation.
The army has threatened to prosecute people who spread divisive comments and shutter social media sites that do not censor "provocative" content.
Thanit Prapatanan, director of the ministry's communications crime office, said his office had shut down at least 330 websites since the junta's censorship orders came out, but he denied shutting down Facebook.
"We're blocking access to webpages that could incite chaos, instigate violence or division or pose a threat to national security. We are looking at the individual pages. For example, on Facebook, we only look for such posts, not looking to shut down Facebook in Thailand as a whole. But if there are any pages that violate the order, we will definitely block it."
The red shirt leaders released yesterday, who support ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, are among hundreds of politicians, activists and academics who had been ordered to "report" to the junta since the May 22 putsch.
Of the 253 people summoned by the military since the coup, 200 had reported to authorities and 124 were released, said Winthai Suvaree, a junta spokesman.
The junta also appointed two retired generals with palace links as advisers, putting figures hostile to Thaksin firmly in the ascendant. Former defence minister General Prawit Wongsuwan and ex-army chief General Anupong Paochinda are key figures in the military establishment and have close ties to coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The junta yesterday shortened a nationwide curfew, saying it was in effect from midnight to 4am, rather than 10pm to 5am. Bloomberg, Associated Press