MANY people are unaware that online acts as simple as pressing “like” on a Facebook status could land them in trouble with Thailand’s computer-related crime law.
In one of the most recent cases, a policeman was summoned as a witness last week after his Facebook account left a “like” on a message allegedly defaming a senior police officer.
“We found that you pressed ‘like’ in agreement with that message, an act that increased the credibility of such information,” Pol Major Samrerng Naew-in, an investigating officer at Chonburi Police Station, said in the summons to Pol Sergeant Chakpong Wongchit.
Chakpong’s Facebook account left a “like” on a post with messages and voice records criticising Pol Maj-General Kritsakorn Pleethanyawong, deputy commander of the Provincial Police Region 2.
As Kritsakorn had filed a defamation complaint against Pol Captain Watcharin Benchanathasawat, who posted the original message, Chakpong was consequently called in as a witness.
The Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) has said in the past that anyone pressing “like” to a wrongful online status can be guilty as the Criminal Code’s Article 83 punishes a conspirator to a wrongful action.
“An act of liking a wrongful Facebook status is equal to signing to endorse such an act,” the TCSD said. “While likers may not have the direct intention [on the wrongful act], an act of pressing ‘like’ increases the credibility of such information,” the TCSD said.
However, Thai Netizen Network co-founder Sarinee Achavanuntakul said that merely pressing “like” can’t reflect the true intention of the person. “Only thought police would assume that ‘liking’ is a pure agreement,” she said. She saw pressing “like” as a mere reaction and did not see how it could add more weight to the credibility of the status.
“It doesn’t matter how wrongful that online message is,” she said. “Pressing ‘like’ shouldn’t be wrong from the start. It doesn’t even have enough weight to judge a liker as being involved in such a post – that he has to be summoned as a witness.”