“Liking” something in Thailand could get you arrested

the King and Queen of Thailand

the King and Queen of Thailand

Thailand has brought its infamous lèse-majesté law up-to-date, by expanding its scope to cover the “liking” of status updates or groups on Facebook.

In Thailand a few years back, partying it up at a bar in Bangkok, my friend quickly corrected me when I handed a bill to the waitress for our drinks. “Never put your finger or thumb over the face of the King,” he explained. “They love their monarch and people will get upset with you if you do.”

Understandable – from what I can tell King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his wife Queen Sirikit have done amazing things for their country. When I was there I read an article about Queen Sirikit reviving the economy in the North by importing foods native to North America that would grow in their climate. Farmers in Northern Thailand were benefiting immensely from her innovative thinking.

But the Kingdom’s Facebook policy might be stretching things a little too far.

The act of “liking” anything on Facebook that might be deemed against the Thai monarchy is a prosecutable offence. You can go to jail for supporting a person or group who might have said something against the royality in any way – we’re not talking about a day or two in the lockup, we’re talking some serious time.

It came to the world’s attention after a 61-year old man was incarcerated for sending a text message about the Queen that was thought to be offensive. Amphon Tangnoppaku was found guilty of lèse-majesté and handed a 20-year sentence. So why has the law been expanded to cover Facebook likes? When stuff like this happens, support groups tend to open up on Facebook – people “like” the group to show their support or sympathy for the cause. Under the terms of the law, commenting or liking anything on any pages devoted to or in support of Tangnoppaku would be an offense.

The Thai information and communication technology minister, Anudith Nakornthap, has issued a warning that anyone creating objectionable pages on Facebook would be charged with violating the country’s Computer Crimes Act and that anyone who had clicked “like this” on any of those pages had best “unlike” them, lest they too find themselves on the receiving end of the strong arm of the law.

According to The Times of India the Thai government has taken the additional step of asking Facebook to delete around 10,000 pages that contain content deemed to be insulting of the queen; and The Bangkok Post reports that the Thai Ministry has been collaborating with foreign Internet providers since August to take down thousands of pages containing lèse-majesté content.

So if you are planning a trip to Thailand, it may be worth giving your Facebook profile a once over, just to be safe.


A freelance writer & radio announcer with a general love for the bizarre, the weird and the unique.
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