Thai law enforcement, specifically the Technology Crime Suppression Division, or TCSD, has warned the public that April Fool’s jokes on April First online could lead to stiff fines and many years in jail.
This warning has been a regular occurrence since 2020 when the TCSD first issued the stern warning in response to fear that people would make April Fool’s jokes about Covid-19 and cause a panic.
The warnings continued throughout the pandemic in 2021 and 2022 but now with Thai general elections less than two months away, scheduled for May 14th, concern seems to have moved away from Covid and to concerns people may use April Fool’s to mislead the public or make jokes about the upcoming election.
According to the TCSD, under the Computer Crimes Act, one could be charged up to 100,000 baht or face up to five years in jail for any information that caused a panic, damages security, was misinformation, or defames an individual or business.
As a result, the TCSD is asking people to refrain from April Fool’s jokes online and have also said in prior years that the holiday and tradition of practical jokes and pranks is, according to them, not part of Thai culture or etiquette.
TPN media notes that Thailand has extremely strict computer crimes, libel, defamation, and slander laws and these do not have exclusions for satire or parody like many western countries, both of which are as a result very rare in Thai media and major publications.