Thailand military threatens to block social media as coup erupts

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Will Thailand’s Internet go dark?

Thailand’s army has warned its citizens that social media and other websites could be banned if too much dissent about the recent military coup makes its way online, according to the Next Web.

Thailand, which has been under political turmoil for the past few months, has been taken over by the military, which instituted martial law on Tuesday, and has subsequently taken off the air nearly 3,000 radio stations and 14 national TV stations.

A veteran of censorship, Thailand has a long history with quelling the expressions and information-gathering capabilities of its citizens. YouTube was banned in Thailand in 2006, and in 2011 the government tried to get 10,000 Facebook pages removed for defaming the royal family. The country has a team of IT professionals whose main job is to search and remove or block content that is offensive or derogatory toward the royal family, and Thailand was the first country to embrace Twitter’s country-specific censorship program.

It remains to be seen if Thailand army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will go through with the threats, but Thailand is not lacking in social media users. There are over 25 million registered Facebook users in Thailand, and the most Instagrammed place in the world is a mall in Bangkok.

H/T The Next Web | Image via Keng Susumpow/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Micah Singleton

Micah Singleton

Micah Singleton is a former technology and culture reporter of the Daily Dot and a former staff writer at Gizmodo. His work has also appeared in Time, Yahoo, the Verge, Mashable, ReadWrite, and NBC. Singleton was named a "rising star" by the Huffington Post in 2013.