Thailand threatens Facebook with legal action

Thailand’s digital minister plans to ask the court to shut down Meta’s Facebook — Thailand’s second-largest economy in Southeast Asia — unless the site takes action on the scams, where there are about 200,000 victims of such fraudulent advertisements with damages exceeding 100 billion baht ($2.85 billion).

Late this month, the Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Chayut Thanakamanusurn, is seeking a court order to shut down Facebook services in the kingdom, accusing the operator of failing to block fraudulent ads that have caused serious harm to people.

Chayot Thanakamanusurn, Thailand’s minister of digital economy and society, told a news conference: “We ask the court to shut down Facebook and not allow it to offer its services in Thailand if these fake pages are allowed to defraud people.”

In a statement, Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society said: “We have repeatedly made requests for ads identified as fraudulent, and we have tried to ask Facebook to block those fraudulent ads, but to no avail and the problem persists and requires court intervention.”

The minister wants the court to shut down Facebook services in Thailand within seven days because the site does not vet who buys its advertising space.

Weitang Phuangsup, a ministry spokesman, said officials were currently collecting evidence of wrongdoing by Facebook, which will be presented to the court.

“If there are a lot of irregularities, the court can close the pages and accounts, or the court can close the entire platform,” Foangsup said.

In turn, the ministry pointed out that the fraud committed through Facebook included luring users to invest in fake companies, invitations to investment projects that promise unrealistically high profits with references to well-known people and successful investors, falsifying the pages of government agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, trading in digital currencies, in addition to advertisements for products that were not delivered to buyers.

Thailand has about 52.3 million active social media users, representing about 72 percent of the country’s population, and the most popular platforms include Facebook, TikTok and Line.

Thailand has teamed up with various social media platforms, including Facebook and TikTok, to counter the threat of fake news and a disinformation campaign ahead of national elections.

 

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