Facebook, Twitter face legal action over failure to remove content

Thailand is taking legal action against Twitter and Facebook after they failed to comply with orders to take down content.

BANGKOK • Thailand began legal action yesterday against Facebook and Twitter for ignoring requests to take down content, in its first such move against major Internet firms.

The Digital Ministry filed legal complaints with the cybercrime police after the two social media giants missed 15-day deadlines to comply fully with court-issued takedown orders from Aug 27, said Minister of Digital Economy and Society Puttipong Punnakanta.

No action was taken against Alphabet's Google as originally suggested as it took down all the YouTube videos specified in the order late on Wednesday, Mr Puttipong said.

"This is the first time we're using the Computer Crime Act to take action against platforms for not complying with court orders," the minister told reporters.

"Unless the companies send their representatives to negotiate, police can bring criminal cases against them. But if they do, and acknowledge the wrongdoing, we can settle on fines."

Mr Puttipong did not disclose details of the content or say what laws had been violated.

The complaints were against the United States parent companies and not their Thai subsidiaries, he said.

The ministry will file more such takedown requests to Facebook, Twitter and Google, asking them to remove more than 3,000 items from their platforms - with content ranging from pornography to criticism of the monarchy, Mr Puttipong said.

Twitter declined to comment, while Facebook and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Thailand has a tough lese majeste law that prohibits insulting the monarchy. The Computer Crime Act, which outlaws the uploading of information that is false or affects national security, has also been used to prosecute online criticism of the royal family.

In recent years, the authorities have filed court orders with requests to social media platforms to restrict or remove perceived royal insults and other illegal content such as those related to gambling or copyright violations.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2020, with the headline 'Facebook, Twitter face legal action over failure to remove content'. Print Edition | Subscribe