Facebook on Tuesday, said it would legally challenge a request by the Thai government to restrict access in Thailand to an anti-monarchy group, after initially complying with the demand.
On Monday, Facebook blocked access in Thailand to the Royalist Marketplace group which has over a million members.
A Facebook company spokesperson said after careful review, Facebook was compelled to restrict access to content which the Thai government deemed to be illegal.
However, the company said it had done so reluctantly.
“Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves.
“We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request,” the spokesperson said.
The Royalist Marketplace group was created and run by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a renowned anti-monarchy academic who lives in exile due to his openly critical stance.
Thailand’s monarchy is protected by strict lese-majeste laws, where defamation against the royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Increasingly open anti-monarchy sentiment has been seen during recent anti-government protests in spite historically being considered taboo in Thai society.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday that the government’s request to restrict access to the Royalist Marketplace group was lawful and had gone through court proceedings.
“If there is a lawsuit on this issue, we’ll have to use Thai law to legally defend our case,”