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3/6/2008
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Thai Monks Warned Not To Flirt On Social Networking Sites

A minister asked Web site operators to monitor monks' participation and kick them off the sites.

Buddhist monks have been warned not to use social networking sites to flirt with girls.

The news of the warning came earlier this week as police in Thailand were investigating a rape claim against a monk. In that case, a monk is accused of using the Internet to lure a teenage girl to his temple and raping her.

The Bangkok Post reported that the Prime Minister's Office requested that the Information, Communications and Technology ministry monitor the use of one particular site.

Officials are considering whether to block access to the Hi5 site to solve the problem, but a law passed last year requires a judge's permission to block the site, according to the report.

A Thai minister reportedly asked site operators to monitor the Web site for monks' participation and kick them off the site. He also urged other users not to interact with monks behaving inappropriately on the site.

Buddhism is the top religion in Thailand, and monks are not allowed to behave in a sexual manner.

The focus on the Web site and the monks' involvement has sparked a discussion over what value the site holds to people in Thailand, including monks.

The social networking site's company, Hi5 Networks, touts more than 70 million users in 250 countries and offers profiles in several languages, including Russian and Chinese. It's based in San Francisco and claims to be the third-largest social network in the world. It claims 800,000 active members in Thailand.

The site's online safety section reminds users that their posts could embarrass them or put them at risk. It reminds users not to meet with strangers and, if they must meet an online contact in the real world, to do so in a public place and bring a parent. It urges people to think before posting and imagine that their posts could be read by parents and potential employers.

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