Google has removed Maps documents that contained the names and addresses of activists who have allegedly criticised the Thai royal family.
According to Reuters, Thai royalist Songklod ‘Pukem’ Chuenchoopol created the maps along with 80 volunteers. The plan was apparently to report everyone listed on the maps to the police for opposing the Thai monarchy.
“When each of us sees something offensive posted on social media, we put it on the map,” Chuenchoopol said. They also told Reuters that the maps were designed to dissuade others from criticising the monarchy on the internet.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher, Sunai Phasuk, told the Washington Post that the maps were sent to HRW numerous times on Monday.
They contained the names and addresses of more than five hundred people — including their professions and alleged offenses against the monarchy.
The maps also included the photos of each person — some of whom were students depicted in their school uniforms — in with a black box with the number ‘112’ over their eyes.
This is a reference to the extremely strict lèse-majesté laws in Thailand. Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code states that it is illegal to defame, insult or threaten certain members of the royal family. This can be punished by 15 years in jail.
“This was a witch hunt map,” Sunai said to the Washington Post. “It could lead to physical danger against people who are marked.”
Google has now removed the maps.
“The issue is now fixed,” Google said in a statement.
“We have clear policies about what’s acceptable for user generated My Maps content. We remove user generated maps that violate our policies.”
Protests have risen across Thailand over the past year as some citizens call for reforms to make the country more of a democracy.
There have also been questions asked about King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s behaviour, including transferring the entire multi-billionaire royal portfolio to himself.
A Thai opposition leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, was also charged earlier this year for accusing the government of relying heavily on a company owned by the king for COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the Washington Post, nine pro-democracy activists have disappeared in recent years, with two being found dead.