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Prayut praises success in Thailand’s ‘war on fake news’

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has hailed progress in Thailand’s campaign against “fake news”, even as critics accuse the government of an unprecedented clampdown on internet freedom.

Prayut praised state agencies after the latest Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) report showed fake news was on a downward trend, government spokesperson Trisulee Trisaranakul said on Wednesday.

The ministry reported that fake news stories in 2021 had dropped by 26.43 per cent, following a 6.69 per cent decline in 2020. Meanwhile, the number of genuine news stories had risen by 28.66 per cent, it said.

The PM praised the ministry, related agencies, society, and citizens for joining hands to report the news and find facts. He added that citizens must help the government to protect society against fake news circulating on the many social media platforms now available.

The MDES launched its anti-fake news centre in 2019 following a crackdown on internet freedom under Prayut’s post-coup regime. Since then, state authorities have mainly used cybercrime laws against online content critical of the government, military or Royal Family, amid rising anti-establishment protests. Rights groups say the term “fake news” is being weaponised by the government to crack down on its critics and protesters.

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The MDES said 158 cases of fake news were prosecuted last year. So far, 135 cases have been prosecuted this year, it added.

Published : September 22, 2021