Royalist Marketplace, a Facebook group of 2.3 million members dedicated to frank discussions of the Thai monarchy, was rendered inaccessible in Thailand last night, according to the group founder.
Pavin's Facebook post announces the group being banned.
On 10 January, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai academic and monarchy critic in exile, posted that his site had been blocked in Thailand.
After reading the post, a Prachatai reporter in Thailand checked and found that the site was inaccessible. Facebook issued a statement that access to the site in Thailand had been limited “in response to a legal request”.
The site was accessible again after about an hour. It is still up as of 13.30 of 11 January.
Royalist Marketplace, known in Thai as Talad Luang (Royal Market or Public Market), was established by Pavin in April 2020. Group members engage in daily satirical discussions of the monarchy. These activities have provoked online and offline retaliation from royalist Thais.
In August 2020, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) filed a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to prosecute Pavin and the site administrator for uploading alleged illegal information.
In the same month, Thai authorities limited the access to the group, causing what was nicknamed “The Great Migration” as users relocated to a newly-established Royalist Marketplace group. The new group reached 1 million members within the space of its first week.