Thai government steps up efforts to crack down on fake news
Warrants have been issued for 29 people, including people who ‘like’ and share posts on social media
By Gregory Morrissey
Thai authorities are stepping up a crackdown on false and misleading information targetting the government which is spreading quickly via social media platforms.
Concerns about “fake news” were heightened after a London-based Facebook user posted on the KonthaiUK Facebook site a photo and a message suggesting corruption in the government’s satellite project.
Speaking after being briefed on the crackdown by Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy commissioner of the Tourist Police, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon said the authorities are taking legal action against people generating and spreading fake news.
In the latest case, warrants have been issued for the arrest of 29 people including a woman identified as Watana Ebbage, 56, who is believed to be living in London and who registered the KonThaiUK page. Gen Prawit said Thai authorities were also in contact with Interpol to have red notices issued for suspects who live overseas.
Commenting on the satellite project, Gen Prawit said the scheme is not off the ground yet and is still on the drawing board.
Earlier, political activist Srisuwan Janya accused the military of pushing for the procurement of 112 THEIA satellites at a cost of 91.2 billion baht (US$2.84 billion) from the THEIA group based in the US.
The military countered the claim, saying the THEIA satellite project dealt with commercial communication satellites, not spy satellites as claimed by Mr Srisuwan and it was a technical study project jointly carried out by the government’s sub-committee on space policy and the National Defence Studies Institute.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate said on Wednesday that the suspects include “ordinary people” who liked or shared the posts on social media.
He insisted action must be taken against them because misinformation could trigger public disorder. He urged people to check sources of information and verify authenticity of news before sharing it.