Harvard Facebook page inaccessible in Thailand

national February 11, 2016 01:00

By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation

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IP ADDRESSES in Thailand yesterday could not connect to Harvard University’s Facebook page amid speculation that the prestigious American institute might have restricted Thai people’s access to the page.



Thais continually registered their complaints on the university’s Facebook page in regard to the case of Dr Dolrudee Jumlongras, who violated the conditions of her scholarship and has refused to pay back the scholarship money owed to Mahidol University. Instead of working in Thailand, she instead opted to work as an instructor in Developmental Biology at the Harvard University School of Dental Medicine. Most of the comments expressed disappointment with Harvard’s failure to take action against Dolrudee. 
When accessing the Facebook Page of Harvard University at https://www.facebook.com/ Harvard, it shows a message that says: “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now”.
Jetsada Sanudomchok, a Thai Facebook user who lives in Vientiane, said he could still access the page. 
But many Facebook users in Thailand cannot. For example, Jib Marn Pin, writer and blogger, posted on his personal Facebook account that he could not access the page since Tuesday night. He pointed out that the page might have been blocked. 
Generally, Facebook page admins can set “country restrictions” with two options: “Only show this page to viewers in these countries” and “Hide this page from viewers in these countries” with a blank box to fill in the name of the targeted country. Facebook can tell which country is trying to access a page by its IP address and this is a default feature on Facebook pages.
The Nation sought a comment from Facebook’s representative on the issue, however as of press time there was no response. 
The denial of access to Harvard’s Facebook page is just one incident after a storm of comments from Thai users blanketed the page. Another incident is the review score of Harvard University Facebook page has dropped from 5 stars to 2.3 stars.
IT blogger, Kongdej Keesukpan, pointed out that in this instance, a lot of complaints from Thai people regarding the Dr Dolrudee case, might be considered by Harvard as spam. It is not easy to delete them, as there were too many comments. Instead, simply blocking the page from the restricted country is easier. 
“Complaints from Thais are really like spam. They can use other methods to convey their thoughts such as by creating a petition on www.change.org rather posting their comments on the university’s page,” said Kongdej.
Later on, the page became accessible again last night.

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