Call to be wary of chat rooms

Call to be wary of chat rooms

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry on Wednesday warned Thai users not to break the law on an audio-only, invite-only social media platform, Clubhouse, urging them to use the app responsibly after reports emerged of some political activists and celebrities flocking to the new platform for discussions of the country's highly-sensitive issues.

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said social media users are expected to comply with the laws and even though Clubhouse's chat rooms are by invite-only, authorities are required to investigate if illegal content is reported.

Mr Buddhipongse's call comes amid reports that activists have in recent days switched to the app which is a platform for audio conversations.

Concerns are growing that the app is used to air highly-sensitive issues, harmful content and disinformation.

One of them is Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai scholar and political exile, who is in Japan to escape a lese majeste charge.

He started discussing the monarchy, with some of his thousands of listeners chiming in with questions and opinions.

"If people abuse the app and violate the rights of other people and cause damage, they will be held responsible under the Computer Crime Act and other laws," Mr Buddhipongse said.

Mr Buddhipongse said that like other social media platforms, the app is subject to laws and police and authorities are ready to take action if offences on the new platform are reported.

He also said the DES Ministry has monitored the use of Clubhouse since it was introduced.

Clubhouse is an 11-month-old social media app where users conduct real-time conversations on a variety of subjects ranging from politics to poetry.

Clubhouse has over the past week gained substantial popularity in Thailand, thanks to its outstanding feature allowing users to switch from typing to chat with others to sending voice chats instead.

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