Posting Coronavirus April Fools Jokes is Illegal, Police Say

A woman receives a coronavirus test in Bangkok on March 30, 2020.

BANGKOK — Posting April Fool’s Day jokes related to the coronavirus would result in criminal prosecution on charges of cybercrime, a national police spokesman warned.

Col. Kissana Phathanacharoen said Tuesday that both the media and social media users should refrain from making any false remarks about the disease, even in jest, lest they may be arrested and jailed under the Computer Crime Act.

“April Fool’s Day, or ‘Day of Lies,’ might be used for keyboard warriors and those with ill intentions to take advantage of the occasion and spread fake news,” Kissana said. “They assume it’s permitted and won’t be prosecuted.”

Those posting fake news related to COVID-19 may be charged with presenting false information and causing public panic under the Emergency Decree, an offense punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 40,000 baht.

They may also face a charge of breaking the Computer Crime Act by uploading false information to a computer system. Violators may be imprisoned up to five years and fined 100,000 baht.

Kissana said citizens should be on the lookout for false news which may cause panic.

“Having fun with news during this time of outbreak will not lead to anything good. You shouldn’t play with people’s emotions,” he said.

Several people have been arrested in recent weeks for spreading rumors and false information about the coronavirus on social media.

The latest arrest took place on March 5 when police detained a Bangkok resident who allegedly posted on his social media platforms that someone died of coronavirus at a popular shopping mall. Police said the claim is untrue.