Facebook on Wednesday said that it removed 185 accounts and pages associated with the Thai military, that posted content about alleged violence by insurgent groups in southern Thailand, as well as criticism on separatist and independence movements, according to a report of the company.
“The people behind this network used both authentic and fake accounts—some of which had already been detected and disabled by our automated systems—to manage groups and pages, including overt military pages,” the company said.
A total of 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups on Facebook, as well as 18 Instagram accounts were taken down. The network, active since last year, is targeting audiences in southern Thailand where decades-long on-and-off conflicts have flared and insurgent groups continue their fight for independence.
More than 7,000 people have been killed over the past 16 years of ongoing armed conflict, 90% of them civilians from the Thai Buddhist and Malay Muslim ethnic groups in the Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and Songkhla provinces, according to Human Rights Watch.
With over 700,000 followers, the network also spent USD 350 to advertise its content on the platforms, the report added.
In 2019, Facebook took down 22 accounts and pages operated from Thailand with links of Russian government-funded journals. Some of the banned content involved fake accounts that created “fictitious personas” and disseminated divisive opinions and comments on topics from Thai politics to US-China relations.
The news comes at a time when the Thai government has repeatedly accused Facebook of failing to comply with requests to restrict content that it deems defamatory to the monarchy, such as the posts on the million-strong Facebook group “Royalist Marketplace,” which was taken down in late August, only to re-emerge under a similar name.
Thai authorities have continued to tighten their control over cyberspace access and vowed to block over 2,000 websites before mid-September, including Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. However, only 523 sites were taken down by the social networks as of end September.