The Royal Thai Police has pledged to work with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) to crack down on those spreading fake news.
National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk has instructed all police agencies to work with the MDES, security agencies and public health agencies to monitor fake news and identify, track down and arrest perpetrators, deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said yesterday.
The move comes after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed the need for fake news to be dealt with seriously in a Facebook post on Tuesday. He is worried some of it may affect the state's Covid fight.
"Those spreading fake news, particularly on online platforms, will be prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act and face a jail term of no more than five years and/or a fine of no more than 100,000 baht," Pol Col Kissana said.
"They will also face legal action under the emergency decree with a jail term of no more than two years and/or a fine of no more than 40,000 baht."
Meanwhile, six media organisations have accused the government of ignoring calls to lift measures they say restrict media freedom.
The government has not only turned a deaf ear to their calls over the past two weeks, but Gen Prayut also instructed agencies to enforce the restrictions more strictly, they said.
They were referring to the prime minister's Facebook post.
Their joint remarks were issued by the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Society for Online News Providers and the National Union of Journalists.
They said the government's claim that the restrictions are needed to tackle fake news is unwarranted.
The groups had issued earlier remarks on July 15, condemning the government's invocation of the emergency decree, which they said introduced measures that affect press freedom.
Enforcement of the emergency decree began on July 10.