Facebook is preparing a lawsuit against the Thai government in response to a “severe” demand that it block access to a group on its platform critical of the monarchy, according to CNN.
Although the social media giant has for now complied with the demand that the Royalist Marketplace page, a clearinghouse for satirical and critical commentary started by a Thai academic living abroad, it signaled that it would take unspecified legal action.
“Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves,” a company spokesperson told CNN. “We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request.”
A Facebook representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
The group, which garnered more than 1 million members since it launched in April, became inaccessible last night in Thailand.
Page founder Pavin Chachavalpongpun a fierce monarchy critic who’s lived in exile since 2014, had advance knowledge that it would become inaccessible. Announcing the news Monday afternoon, he encouraged its followers to migrate to an alternative.
The Kyoto-based exile said that he received a call from a Facebook employee in Singapore who told him that the decision could not be avoided and denied that it amounted to censorship.
“The Royalists Marketplace is a part of the democratisation process,” Pavin wrote on his Facebook. “It is a space for freedom of expression. The government’s action is the crudest form of information censorship. It crushes the freedom of expression that we are all entitled to. By doing this, Facebook is cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand.”
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