A realistic activist and volunteers created the maps with names and addresses of royal critics to report them to the police.
Google on Monday withdrew two documents from Google Maps that had listed the names and addresses of hundreds of Thai activists accused by royalists of opposing the monarchy, the technology company said.
Thai royalist activist Songklod “Pukem” Chuenchoopol told Reuters that he and a team of 80 volunteers had created the maps and had planned to report to the police everyone they named about them accused of insulting the monarchy.
A Google Alphabet spokesman said in an email that “the problem has already been resolved” and noted: “We have clear policies on what is acceptable for user-generated My Maps content. We remove maps generated by the user who violates our policies “.
A version of one of the maps seen by Reuters included the names and addresses of about 500 people, many of them students, along with their photos in college or high school uniforms. It had received over 350,000 views.
The faces of the nominees had been covered by black boxes with the number 112, referring to the article of the country’s penal code which makes the insult or defamation of the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Neither map could be accessed when Reuters tried to open it at the last minute on Monday.
Songklod said he and the team of volunteers tried to highlight those they accused of breaking the law.
“When each of us sees something offensive posted on social media, we put it on the map,” he said. Describing it as a “psychological” war operation, Songklod said the goal was to deter people from online criticism of the monarchy.
The youth-led protests that began last year led to unprecedented criticism of the monarchy and called for its reform both on the street and on the Internet.
The government did not immediately respond to a comment about the removal of Google Maps or the content it contained.
Songklod, 54, a retired army captain and prominent right-wing activist, said he considered the operation aimed at opponents of the monarchy a “massive success” despite the withdrawal of the maps.
The royalist activist said the content in them came from public investigations.
Human rights groups and critics of the establishment said the maps included data and private addresses of hundreds of people and could put them at risk of violence.
“I started getting panic messages from young people in Thailand who had been sent in a royalist document on Google Maps accusing them of being anti-monarchy,” said Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a critic of the Scotland-based monarchy and a of the former to highlight the existence of maps.
“It is clear that young Thais who only want democracy face risks that get worse.”