Junta threatens to sue Facebook 

The Thai authorities have threatened to sue Facebook unless it removes 131 pages it considers illegal, including posts critical of the monarchy, within four days.

This week the social network banned a controversial video of Thailand’s king wearing a crop top (pictured) and showing off his tattoos which was circulating widely.

The leaked video of King Maha Vajiralongkorn last June in a shopping centre enraged the junta, which ordered Facebook to remove it immediately.

“If even a single illicit page remains, we will immediately discuss what legal steps to take against Facebook Thailand,” said Takorn Tantasith, secretary general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, according to the Bangkok Post. “Every person must comply with Thai laws and strictly follow rulings by local courts.

“Facebook must either remove the remaining 131 pages by Tuesday morning or face legal action,” he added.

More than 105 lese majeste charges have been raised since the junta took power after the May 2014 coup. The maximum sentence is 15 years under the strict law.

Sensitivity over anything perceived as royal criticism has risen since the former king died in October and his son, Vajiralongkorn, took the throne.

Facebook had already removed 178 of the 309 pages identified by Thai courts, Takorn said, adding that the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society would move to prosecute Facebook Thailand next week if further action was not taken.

The military’s Cyber Centre said it had identified 820 online cases deemed to insulting to the monarchy in the last seven months on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. More than half had been blocked, the army announced.

The royal defamation law forces domestic and foreign media outlets operating in Thailand to self-censor.

In January a Thai welder was sentenced to more than 11 years in jailed for criticising the royals online. In February a human rights activist was put on trial for sharing a BBC Thai-language profile of Vajiralongkorn which had been deemed offensive.

Human rights lawyer Prawet Prapanukul, 57, is also in custody facing 10 counts of royal defamation, meaning he could face up to 150 years in prison.