Facebook is geoblocking this video of Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn so users in Thailand can't see it pic.twitter.com/QAE2SNr2KY— Andrew MacG Marshall (@zenjournalist) May 5, 2017
People in Thailand can access Facebook but there’s at least one video they won’t be able to view — thanks to the tech giant’s prompt compliance with the Thai monarchy’s request.
Thai Facebook users have reportedly been blocked from viewing a bizarre video of their new King Maha Vajiralongkorn in which he can be seen walking around a Germany shopping mall, wearing a skimpy yellow crop-top while showing off his temporary tattoos.
However, the crop-top and the tattoos appear to be the least controversial parts of the short clip.
In the video, the 64-year-old Thai ruler can be seen walking around with a woman who is believed to be one of his several mistresses, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi. Quite unlike how Thailand portrays its royal family, the current monarch is notorious for being a playboy.
Thai government deems the viewing of the video an insult to the king and asked Facebook to censor it in the country, claiming it violates the country’s lese-majeste laws, which make it illegal to criticize the monarchy.
And Facebook did as it was told.
The social media behemoth told VICE News it made the decision to block the video after determining the specified content violated Thailand’s laws.
However, while doing so, Facebook enabled Thailand’s draconian lese-majeste laws, which are frequently used to curb freedom of speech. In fact, these laws are among the worst in the world. In 2013, a Thai magazine editor was jailed for 10 years for writing an article on a fictional character, which was based on then-King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In 2015, a man from the province of Samut Prakan was arrested for liking a Photoshopped photo of King Adulyadej and sharing an infographic on Facebook about a political corruption scandal. The man faced a 32-year prison term over the offense.
The video attracted views after British journalist Andrew Marshall posted it on his Twitter last week. The New York Daily News reports the Thai government also banned all citizens from contacting him.