Thailand’s Fake News Center is officially up and running and has announced the first arrests made in its name along with some stats on the large volume of content – including political – it is forwarding to the authorities.
Two men suspected cybercriminals accused of phishing Line accounts to gain access to their e-wallets were taken into custody last month and this past week, the nation’s top tech minister announced Wednesday.
Puttipong Punnakanta of the Digital Economy and Society Ministry said the pair sent fake porn links to Line users via the ubiquitous chat application that compromised their information and activity history. They would then pose as the affected user and ask to borrow money from their friends. After they received the money, the suspects would immediately delete the account. Police believe many people were duped by this scam in recent months with damages estimated to be over THB100,000 (US$3,000).
They face a slew of charges for violating multiple sections of the Computer Crime Act.
While some suspicion is warranted for any news coming from the “Fake News Center,” word of the arrests plays up its more savory purpose, similar to how the Computer Crime Act was promoted as a tool against online criminals but primarily used to cudgel dissent.
Puttipong did also address the center’s primary purpose, saying a total of 120,391 items were forwarded to it in the first 13 days of November, averaging to nearly 9,300 each day. He said 51,466 of those items were forwarded to relevant agencies to review.
Keeping up the mix of actual crimes vs. thought crimes, he lumped politics, health, finances and drugs together as the reason 7,962 messages were deemed to have a direct public impact. The most worrisome “fake news,” he said, advertised unapproved health products and medicines.
There was no mention of the action taken or enforcement meted out to whomever was deemed purveyors of said “fake news.”
Puttipong said folks can now report computer crimes at 02-288-8000 or online via antifakenewscenter.com.