Tech giant Google took down two Google Maps documents that had listed the names and addresses of hundreds of Thai activists who were accused by royalists of opposing the monarchy.
Thai royalist activist Songklod “Pukem” Chuenchoopol said that he and a team of 80 volunteers had made the maps and planned to report everyone named on them to police regarding insulting the monarchy.
Google said by email “the issue is now fixed”, and noted, “We have clear policies about what’s acceptable for user generated My Maps content. We remove user generated maps that violate our policies.”
The maps included the names and addresses of nearly 500 people, mostly students along with their photos in university or high school uniforms. It has got over 350,000 views.
Those who are named have got their faces covered by black squares with the number 112 under the country’s criminal code which further creates insulting or defaming the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Songklod further revealed that he and the team of volunteers were looking to highlight those they accused of breaking that law.
“When each of us sees something offensive posted on social media, we put it on the map,” he said. Describing it as a “psychological” warfare operation, Songklod said the aim was to dissuade people from online criticism of the monarchy.
Last year’s youth protests brought unprecedented criticism of the monarchy and calls for its reform both on the streets and online.
Songklod, 54, a retired army captain and prominent right-wing activist, said he saw the operation targeting opponents of the monarchy a “massive success” despite the removal of the maps.
Human rights groups and critics of the establishment said the maps included the private data and addresses of hundreds of people and could put them at risk of violence.