11 charged over hoax news stories

11 charged over hoax news stories

This post claiming falsely that the conscription period had been doubled, found on the website jookthai.com, was apparently the final straw that triggered authorities into making 11 arrests for spreading false information. (Archived from jookthai.com)
This post claiming falsely that the conscription period had been doubled, found on the website jookthai.com, was apparently the final straw that triggered authorities into making 11 arrests for spreading false information. (Archived from jookthai.com)

Eleven people have been arrested and charged with posting and spreading false information about the military conscription period being extended from two to four years, according to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD).

In a statement issued by the TCSD yesterday, two of the 11 -- identified only as Somchai and Jurairat -- are said to be linked with the jookthai.com website, while nine others shared the content.

The website ran a story claiming "Big Tu", a reference to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and "Big Daeng", meaning army chief Apirat Kongsompong, had agreed to increase conscription from two to four years and that the conscripts would not be allowed leave.

The offence carries a jail term of up to five years and/or a fine of 100,000 baht.

Several posts in Thai-language media have listed a network of at least 10 websites specialising in clickbait, including fake news.

Another story found on the site cause much speculation on social media. It falsely cited an interview with army commander Gen Aprirat by Bangkok Post military reporter Wassana Nanuam, where he supposedly showed the journalist his "luxury house".

There was no such interview or house.

Authorities claimed the fake stories on jookthai.com could have links to a false story late last month that claimed a woman had died as a result of the PM2.5 dust covering Bangkok.

Watanapong Pitawatanathitikul, the webmaster of bangpunsara.com was arrested on Jan 26 and charged with computer crime. He faces five years in prison for disseminating false information.

No statements were issued by any of the 11 persons arrested Sunday.

But Mr Watanapong told reporters after his arrested that he posted the fake news about the Bangkok smog in the hope of attracting more traffic to his little-noticed website.


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