Social media is one of the most important, strangest, and most unpredictable inventions of the 21st Century all at the same time. Particularly when this invention (be it in the form of Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or one of dozens of other applications) becomes involved in politics, things take a turn into the Twilight Zone, minus the theme music. The latest instance of this happening occurred today when the King of Thailand, King Vajiralongkorn was supposedly filmed while in a shopping mall wearing a small yellow crop top. While many non-Thai internet users and some Thai internet users may find this harmless, or funny depending on how one feels about small yellow crop tops being worn by royalty. The military junta in charge of the Southeast Asian country however does not share the internet’s humor and has called officially for Facebook to remove this video (at the time of this article’s writing, Facebook has not complied with the request as I was still able to view the video on their site).
The reason for the lack of a sense of humor by the Thai military junta stems from a law called Lèse majesté which in lay terms makes it a crime for somebody in Thailand to insult the reigning monarch, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, which critics claim has been used unjustly to stifle those who wish to abolish the monarchy in Thailand, as well as general opponents of the military regime. The law was most recently tinkered with after the death of King Bhuminbol in late 2016 with the constitutional referendum process of that year. In spite of the official government threat to Facebook and the lack of response so far from the social media giant there remains no word on whether or not saying yellow is not the King’s color would be considered such a crime.