As Thailand continues to mourn the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country’s deputy prime minister says that internet giant Google has agreed to remove any web content that disrespects the monarchy. Ultra-monarchist forces in the country have already been scouring the internet and shaming people on social media accused of insulting the late king.
Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong said that he met with representatives from Google in Bangkok on Friday, and Google assured that it would assist the government in removing offensive content from its subsidiary YouTube. “If any website is inappropriate they said to get in touch with them and inform them of the URL and the time the content was found,” Prajin told reporters, according toReuters.
Since the king’s passing on October 13, Juntong said that more than 100 pieces of content deemed insulting to the monarchy have been found on Google sites. That’s no small matter, considering Thailand’s lese majeste laws are some of thestrictest in the world. Article 112 of the country’s criminal code, for example, says that anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” faces 15 years in prison.
Google says that its pledge to remove offensive content is in line with its practices around the world. “We have always had clear and consistent policies for removal requests from governments around the world and we continue to operate in line with those policies,” a Google spokesperson told Reuters on Friday. According to a Google transparency report for Thailand, the company received 33 requests from the government of Thailand to remove content between July and December 2015.
Many monarchists have taken it upon themselves to call out those disrespecting the royal family online. Many people critical of the monarchy, some of whom live abroad, have found themselves the subject of scorn on Thai web forums, while Thais who have decided not to wear black in mourning of the king have been verbally abused by royalists, as well.
On Tuesday, Thailand’s military government said it was monitoring people suspected of disparaging the monarchy, and asked other countries to extradite people accused of insulting the country’s royal family. In addition to Google, the junta has in the past also sought to more strictly censor social media sites such as Facebook and messenger services such as LINE since it swept into power following a 2014 coup.