Preparing company Facebook to take an unprecedented legal action against the Government of Thailand after demanding social networking giant to block access to a group criticized the king of the country, according to said network (CNN).
Reuters reported earlier that Facebook had responded to the request to prevent users inside Thailand from accessing the group after the government threatened to sue the company.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN: After a careful review, Facebook has decided that we are obliged to restrict access to content that the Thai government considers illegal.
He added, "Requests such as these are cruel, and inconsistent with international human rights law, and have a frightening effect on people's ability to express themselves. We are working to protect and defend the rights of all Internet users and are preparing to challenge this request legally."
The Royalist Marketplace group has one million members and was founded by Pavin Chachavalpongpun , an academic and critic of the monarchy who lives in self-imposed exile in Japan.
"By suing the Thai government about its request to ban my group, I think it is the right step, as freedom of expression is something that all of us are entitled to as well, especially in Thailand, where this is a rare commodity," said Chachapongpon.
He criticized Facebook's compliance, saying: Facebook has become part of obstructing the democratic transition in my country and strengthening the control of information by accepting the Thai government's request to prevent access to my group in Thailand, and Facebook's decision harms the right to freely express in this region.
The pro-democracy protests erupted more than a month ago in Thailand, with citizens publicly criticizing the country's king, which is noticeable due to the strict royal self-insult laws that prohibit insulting, slandering, or threatening any member of the royal family.
The Thai digital minister accused Facebook earlier this month of not complying with requests to restrict content, including insults to the monarchy.
But a diverse coalition of Thais publicly defies these laws to question its monarchy, push for reforms, and denounce the king, who spent long periods of time in Europe and fled the country to Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook's decision to ban the Royalist Marketplace group comes less than a week after the Wall Street Journal announced that Facebook's highest public policy executive in India had allowed politicians from the country's ruling party to get away with impunity for violating rules on hate speech.
Facebook and other US tech companies, including Google, Apple and Microsoft, have faced similar dilemmas around the world in countries with more authoritarian government systems, and companies often align with government demands rather than risk losing access to users there.