Thai authorities are cracking down on fake news, particularly false claims about the Covid-19 situation in Thailand. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry’s Anti-Fake News Centre reported more than 50 cases of fake news posted since last month, most involving Covid-19 or vaccines.

Police are now investigating the cases. Those who posted or shared misleading information found to threaten national security or cause public panic could be punished under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and an up to 100,000 baht fine.

With last month’s requests from the government for those in Bangkok to work at home and avoid travel, more misleading posts were made, according to Royal Thai Police deputy spokesperson Krisana Pattanacharoen, adding that people were spending more time on social media.

“Of over 50 cases of fake news that the police are pursuing legal actions, more than 30 are related to Covid-19… Posters of fake news that causes damage to any party, public confusion or panic is punishable with a maximum of five years of imprisonment, or a THB100,000 fine, or both, under the Computer-Related Crime Act of 2017… If you find any fake news, please contact Royal Thai Police call centre at 191 or 1599.”

The Anti-Fake News Centre has fact-checked various claims widely shared on social media. One post claimed the government increased the tax on the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine by more than 100%. The Thai Customs Department says the claims are false. Another claimed PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was given 4 injections of the Covid-19 vaccine. Also false.

Editor’s Comment: The Royal Coast Review often receives false or unsubstantiated information in relation to COVID-19.  It is often time consuming to review these claims, often made without reference to any source. However ethical reporting of any news, regardless of the subject, always includes that process; we won’t be a party to any fake news stories!