Thailand Officially Opens Anti-fake News Center

Thailand just officially unveiled its new Anti-Fake News Center that claims it will monitor and combat the spread of misleading information online.

Human rights activists fear that the center will instead be used to stifle free expression on the internet by going after content that is critical of the government.

Inside the center, large flatscreen TVs display content such as trending social media hashtags to around 40 employees.

Puttipong Punnagun, Thailand’s minister for digital economy and society, says that despite very vocal concerns from activists and citizens alike, the anti-fake news center has pure intentions.

“The center is not intended to be a tool to support the government or any individual,” Puttipong told reporters. “We just want to reduce the number of fake news [reports and postings] and to educate people to have discretion before circulating them.”

Employees at the center can send alleged fake news to the national police for further action.

If the misleading information is deemed to be in violation of Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act, it will be sent to the Technology Crime Suppression Division.

Just recently, the Technology Crime Suppression Division arrested and charged a 25-year-old pro-democracy activist for allegedly spreading the hashtag #royalmotorcade, which trended at the top of Thai Twitter.

The hashtag went viral after a traffic standstill was blamed on the royal motorcade by many Thai Twitter users.

Puttipong said the government found these claims false.

Rights activists though see the anti-fake news center as yet another move by the Thai government to censor dissent through the use of the country’s Computer Crimes Act.

“The Thai government’s anti-fake news center has since August been acting like the Ministry of Truth–defending and promoting state propaganda, while suppressing and prosecuting dissenting opinions,” Sunai Phasuk, a Thai researcher for Human Rights Watch, told BenarNews.

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