Thailand Sees Widespread Facebook Outage

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Thailand Sees Widespread Facebook Outage

Army Denies Blocking the Social Network

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A female soldier and her colleagues take their positions at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday. Associated Press

Facebook FB -0.58% was inaccessible to most users in Thailand on Wednesday, prompting speculation that it had been blocked by the country’s army, which staged a coup last week and has warned critics about expressing dissent on social networks.

Hugely popular in Thailand, Facebook couldn’t be loaded in most users’ Web browsers or on mobile devices beginning Wednesday afternoon, around 3:30 p.m. local time. Around 90 minutes later, it was accessible again for many but remained unavailable to others, especially on mobile devices.

The world’s largest social network with more than one billion global users, Facebook is used by a significant proportion of Thailand’s 67 million people.

Thai Army Spokesman Winthai Suvaree blamed the inability of most users to access Facebook on a technical problem and said the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology was working to fix it. “It should be back up soon. We don’t have orders to shut it down,” he said.

A Facebook representative said the company was looking into the matter and couldn’t immediately comment further.

Earlier Wednesday, the Army said it would target individuals’ social-media accounts if they provoked chaos or instability, but wouldn’t target entire networks.

Maj. Gen. Pisit Paoin, adviser to the ministry’s permanent secretary, refuted news reports that it had blocked Facebook intentionally.

He noted, however, that the ministry will invite representatives of all social-media networks, including Facebook, short-message service Twitter TWTR +2.98% and photo sharing application Instagram, to a Thursday meeting. At the gathering, the ministry would “urge for their speedy collaboration in dealing with any individual account of theirs found to have violated” army orders, that slander individuals and that violate Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws, which forbid criticism of the royal family.

Other sites such as Google, GOOGL -0.57% YouTube, and photo-sharing application Instagram were operating normally.

One of Thailand’s most popular messaging apps, Line, was also functioning normally, and a spokeswoman said the company hadn’t been contacted by Thai authorities about blocking content or individual users.

Representatives of WhatsApp, another popular messaging application, which was working normally, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

—Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol and Warangkana Chomchuen contributed to this article.

Write to Newley Purnell at newley.purnell


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