Facebook just blocked access to its platform within Thailand to a Group consisting of 1 million members that had been criticizing Thailand's king. The group had been protesting daily against the Thai government, hence the government's order to Facebook to block the group.
The group was officially named Royalist Marketplace and was formed in April by a self-exiled academic and critic of the monarchy named Pavin Chachavalpongpun.
The group's page on Facebook had a message for it on Monday, that read "Access to this group has been restricted within Thailand pursuant to a legal request from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.".
Pavin responded saying that Facebook had bowed to the pressure from the military-dominant government. He complained that the group is part of a democratization process and is a space for freedom of expression.
According to Pavin, Facebook's move to block the group shows that the company is ''cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand.".
Only the following day, Pavin managed to create another group that already had 455,000 members by Tuesday. Facebook said that it now plans to legally challenge the government of Thailand after being ''compelled'' to block the group.
The social media company expressed that requests like this are ''severe'' and have a ''chilling effect'' on people's ability to express themselves. It further added that it aims to protect the rights of all users.
Thailand's Lese Majeste laws forbid defaming the king and therefore demand blocking or removing of content against the monarchy on social media platforms. The digital minister of Thailand accused Facebook earlier this month of not complying with requests to restrict content that included insults to the monarchy. He gave the company 15 days to either comply with the requests or face charges under the local Computer Crime Act that carries a fine of up to 200,000 baht and an additional 5,000 baht per day until each order is observed.
Facebook complied with the request before the deadline, but after mentioning its plan to take legal action, was met with no comment from the Thai government.
The Thai ministry, furthermore, filed a separate cybercrime complaint against Pavin for creating the group.