THAILAND’s telecommunications firms have issued instructions to customers to report any “inappropriate content about the royal institution” that they see across any media platform, including on social media sites like Facebook.
According to Reuters, the instructions posted by mobile operators Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS), Total Access Communication Pcl and True Move on messaging applications and Facebook pages, were issued following a request from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, the kingdom’s broadcasting regulator.
It quoted True’s head of public relations Pimolpan Siriwongwan-ngam as saying, “The NBTC has asked all mobile operators to send the instruction to our clients. We’re only acting as channels to spread the message.”
The wire agency said representatives of AIS and Total Access similarly confirmed that they were following NBTC’s guidelines. They reportedly said that customers who spot inappropriate content online should send URLs and screenshots of the offending website to the NBTC and the Information and Communication Technology Ministry.
Thailand’s longest-reigning monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, passed away on Thursday in Bangkok, ending a 70-year rule.
His demise devastated the Thai people, who view their king as a demi-God, a father figure and a symbol of unity in a nation polarized by decades of unrest.
In the days after his passing, several regulatory bodies in the kingdom issued directives and guidelines governing public behavior during the period of mourning for the king.
Media outlets bathed their websites in black and white, while TV channels aired somber news and dedications to the late king. According to NBTC, failure to report inappropriate content is considered a crime.
The Thai public wore black and white to symbolize the period of mourning while tourists to the kingdom were advised to dress appropriately and behave respectfully when out and about.
“Many heartbroken Thais are quite sensitive. When they see illegal content that offends them, they’ll be more stressed.
“We have to let them know about channels to report content to relieve their sense of helplessness,” Information Ministry spokesman Chatchai Khunpitiluck was quoted in Reuters as saying.
On Friday, a day after the king’s passing, police and soldiers on the Thai resort island of Phuket had to step in to disperse a mob of several hundred people who were seeking a confrontation with a man they believed insulted their monarch.
Video shot Friday evening shows the crowd outside a soy milk shop waving placards with slurs such as “buffalo,” a local slang word for stupidity, and yelling for the man to come out.
One man in the rowdy crowd yelled, “If you don’t love the king, who else would you love in this land?”
Thailand has draconian lese majeste laws that impose stiff prison sentences for actions or writings regarded as derogatory toward the monarch and his family.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press