Government going after Telegram users and social media posts to quell dissent

Thailand’s military-backed government on Monday issued orders to shut down the messaging application Telegram and prosecute members of the public for posting dissenting views on social media.

According to an order from the National Police Chief, the application Telegram is being used to coordinate and plan pro-democracy rallies against the government and must be shut down.

The police forwarded the request to the digital ministry, who have in turn asked people to stop using the application. Reports say that the ministry is looking into ways it can shut down or block access to the application’s servers.

The Thai government is also looking to charge individuals that have shared content that they deem to be in violation of the law, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.

The Declaration of a Serious Emergency Situation in Bangkok came into effect last Thursday.

One of the orders barred the distribution of letters and publications, including electronic data, which may instigate fear among the people, or is intended to distort information which leads to false understanding of the emergency situation.

The government said it is looking to charge individuals with the violation of the Computer Crime Act of 2017 as well.

The ministry said that it has discovered 324,990 cases of protest leaders, politicians and social media users that have created and posted content between October 13 and October 18 that were deemed to be against the emergency decree’s order.

Of the more than 300,000 reported cases, about 245,000 are from Facebook, around 75,000 from Twitter, and around 4,000 cases on web boards.

Puttipong Punnakanta, the digital minister, said the ministry will concentrate on charging the creators of these contents such as the twitter pages of Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Somsak Jeamteerasakul as well as Panupong “Mike” Jadnok.

“Please be careful that whatever you post are not against the law because officers are constantly monitoring social media movement including people who share and retweeted contents that are against the law 24 hours a day,” he said.

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