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Brass-band scandal - another viral story on social media

The young members of Satriwitthaya 2 School's marching band, the Max Percussion Theatre, have drawn attention for an entire week.

It started when they asked Tan Passakornnatee, chairman and chief executive of Ichitan Group, to fund a trip to a marching competition in the Netherlands.

A Tan post on Facebook showed he reluctantly handed over Bt3.1 million and then begged everyone to stop asking him for money.

While this group went abroad for the competition, once again the community at Pantip.com, the largest web board in Thailand, produced an investigative report. They have been digging to find details about his marching band.

Pantip.com's investigative community disclosed unknown information about the band, while Tan kept posting his feelings on the matter.

In this case, we see the role of Pantip.com in digging for information, while Twitter and Facebook were used to spread the issue to anyone interested.

Then, the mainstream media picked up the story and reported the issue to the masses.

This is the latest case of a web board and social media playing a role in encouraging people to do their own investigating and reporting rather replying on the mass media alone.

On one side, we recognise the power of people on the Internet, especially at Pantip.com, which has investigated and disclosed several cases, and how individuals can help unveil an untold or unknown issue in society.

Like the case of the marching band, it often results in more issues being uncovered. In this case they were support issues for marching bands in high schools nationwide; the school's management policy and transparency; the social etiquette of younger generations; and the social impact when issues spread through social media and online and then go "offline".

Many people might regard this story as entertainment or an attractive investigative story to follow. But it is not fiction. It is a real story of people, especially a story about young people.

On one hand, social media and the online community in general help society by digging for facts but on the other hand, it creates a negative impact for all related parties - the school, teachers, students, and society as the whole.

The notable feature of social media and the online community is of a viral phenomenon that spreads fast and wide, but there is a perception that it moves quicker than the disclosure of facts in a story.

There will be more things that turn in hot online issues. It is time to ask ourselves: Do we really like to consume these kinds of story just for entertainment? Or should we ask ourselves 'What do we learn from these cases?'

The way people consume and interact with a story, whether online or offline, reflects the way society is heading.


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