- An outspoken supporter of the Thai royal family published the locations of monarchy critics on Google Maps.
- He told Reuters that he and 80 other volunteers compiled hundreds of coordinates while scouring the web.
- Google has since taken down the maps.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Google took down several user-generated Google Maps on Monday, which were created by a Thai royalist who wanted to expose the locations of people criticizing Thailand’s monarchy and King Bhumibol Adulyadej in particular.
Thai royalist activist and retired army captain Songklod Chuenchoopol, also known as “Pookem,” posted a screenshot of one such map on his Facebook page. It contained the addresses and job details of hundreds of apparent anti-monarchy critics, many of whom were labeled as students.
In his post, Chuenchoopol claimed credit for the map, saying he would submit the documents to the authorities.
He called his creation a “112 map,” named after Thailand’s royal defamation law, which dictates that anyone who “defames, insults, or threatens” the royal family can be sentenced to three to 15 years of prison. The law is sometimes referred to as the “lese-majeste” rule.
The rule was leveled last year against dozens of activists, when thousands protested in Bangkok against the monarchy’s control of billions in royal funds and the current Thai king’s luxury lifestyle.
Last December, a 16-year-old boy was ordered to turn himself in to the police for dressing up like the king – in a crop top – and writing insults to the king on his body. Meanwhile, a 63-year-old civil servant was sentenced to 43 years in jail under the law in January. In one case, a man was jailed for 15 years for posting photos of the king’s dog that allegedly ridiculed the animal.
Chuenchoopol told Reuters that his maps were filled in by him and an 80-strong volunteer group, who monitored the web and social media for signs of criticism against the monarchy. According to him, it was “psychological warfare” that would discourage people from disrespecting the royal family.
He has a substantial following on social media, with more than 162,000 followers on Facebook and 44,000 on Twitter.
The right-wing activist also made local headlines last September when he was admitted to the hospital after being attacked by a group of men.
A spokesperson for Google told Insider that it acted on the maps as soon as it was made aware of them on Monday.
“The issue is now fixed. We have clear policies about what’s acceptable for user generated My Maps content. We remove user generated maps that violate our policies,” the spokesperson wrote in an email statement.
They added that Google would continue to monitor the situation and act on other maps that violate its policies.
Human rights lawyer Krisadang Nutjarat told local news site The Voice that Chuenchoopol’s maps were a violation of privacy and that the maps offered no proof of defamation.
Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher on Thailand in Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, tweeted about the removal of the maps, saying they contained hate.
-Sunai (@sunaibkk) June 28, 2021
Insider has contacted Chuenchoopol for comment.