Thai army says Facebook not banned after brief blackout | News | DW | 28.05.2014
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Thai army says Facebook not banned after brief blackout

Thailand's military junta has said a technical hitch downed Facebook briefly, contradicting earlier comments from a ministry. The army also said it had released most people arrested since the coup.

The Facebook website was offline for many users in Thailand for around two hours on Wednesday afternoon, but the army said it was not blocking the social media platform altogether.

Thailand's interim ruling military junta, called the National Council for Peace and Order, issued a statement on national media, saying "there is no policy to suspend or close down Facebook." It said an inspection had found a "technical error," with the partial blackout taking place as it was fixed.

On Tuesday, however, the government's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology had told the Thai press that it was working on a new filter for the Internet, and that social media was being closely monitored for violations of new censorship rules.

The director of the ministry's Office of Technology Communications Crime Prevention and Suppression, Thanit Papatanan said on Wednesday that his office had shut down hundreds of websites - but that Facebook as a whole would not be one of them.

"We're blocking access to web pages that could incite chaos, instigate violence or division or pose a threat to national security," Papatanan said. "We are looking at the individual pages. For example, on Facebook, we only look for such posts, not looking to shut down Facebook in Thailand as a whole. But if there are any pages that violate the order, we will definitely block it."

Army: most coup detainees freed

The junta, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, also said on Wednesday that 124 of the 200 people detained since last week's coup had since been released. Those still in custody were not permitted to engage in political activity of any sort.

Militärputsch in Thailand

Small protests continue peacefully, despite a ban on large public gatherings

The army also shortened the night-time curfew imposed on the day it took power, shortening its running time to four hours, starting at midnight each day.

The coup followed months of unrest in Thailand - from both supporters and opponents of the previous democratically-elected government, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The self-titled National Council for Peace and Order, which had been chairing negotiations between the rival factions, said it seized control once the political process failed.

Some small, peaceful public protests have followed last week's coup, without reports of a violent military response. The numbers of protesters have dwindled drastically, however, to around 200 people on Wednesday. At least in theory, large public gatherings are currently outlawed in Thailand.

msh/mz (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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