Thailand Blocks Facebook to Silence Coup Protests

Protesters, background, confront Thai soldiers blocking the road during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, May 26, 2014.

Thailand's military has blocked Facebook in hopes of quieting protests against the coup d'etat it declared last week.
The country's information technology ministry announced the block on Wednesday after reports that users were not able to access their Facebook accounts. Initially, authorities said it was a technical glitch, but Surachai Srisaracam, the permanent secretary of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry told Reuters that the block is deliberate.
"We have blocked Facebook temporarily," he said. "Right now there's a campaign to ask for people to stage protests against the army so we need to ask for cooperation from social media to help us stop the spread of critical messages about the coup"
Srisaracam also added that the government plans on calling other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, to ask for their "cooperation."
Facebook's block comes after army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha declared a coup and took over the government last week, and began a widespread censorship campaign, blocking access to international television, imposing restrictions to Thailand's own TV networks and blocking several websites.
This new online censorship effort wasn't unexpected. The commissioner of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said last week that that the government would monitor and block online content "which may contravene to public morality and cause conflict and unrest and threat to national security."
The government also announced on Tuesday that it was planning to implement a new Internet gateway to better control and filter the web.
With the block on Facebook, Thailand joines a handful of other countries blocking the world's largest social network, including China, Iran, and North Korea.
Facebook didn't reply to a request for comment.

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