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Social media can be a good friend or your enemy

Be careful what you write on social media, because once it's out there, you can't take it back.

Social media not only bridge the gap between the voices of unsung people and influential people like celebrities but it also helps to amplify voices quickly.

Over the past week, there have been a number of examples of this. The first example was a controversial tweet by Takorn Tantasith (@TakornNBTC), secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. He tweeted that the agency had approved Apple's application to distribute two iPhone 6 models in Thailand. His tweet immediately got plenty of attention, not only in Thailand but from English-language online media such as MacRumors, Apple Insider, and Patently Apple.

His tweet was a hot topic among the tech-savvy in Thailand. Many people posted comments on @TakornNBTC that his tweet might result in Apple shunning the Thai market because he had leaked secret commercial information.

The mainstream media also reported on this. Many organisations attempted to get a comment from mobile operators but were unsuccessful.

Takorn held a press conference to insist that his tweet was in line with the regulator's responsibility to keep the public informed as part of its consumer-protection role. He claimed the tweet did not amount to divulging Apple's trade information to the public.

The second example shows how social media help amplify normal people's voices when complaining to the public.

Facebook users shared a photo of someone's bill after being charged a whopping Bt3,820 for nine menu items such as som tam and grilled squid from a beach restaurant in Hua Hin.

The post spread over social media and was eventually picked up by the mainstream media. It led the National Council for Peace and Order to order the governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan province to clean up Hua Hin Beach, including the demolition of shops.

A post of an unfair food charge could result in shops along the beach charging tourists fairly.

It is not only unsung people who use social media to amplify their voice. Public figures can do the same.

A Facebook post by TV journalist Nattha Komolvadhin detailed her dismay over what she regarded as the poor parking service at the Central Embassy shopping mall in Bangkok.

Only four hours after her post, Nattha posted that the manager who oversees parking at the mall had responded by saying the venue did not favour the drivers of expensive cars. The story was immediately picked up by the mainstream media.

These cases show us the power of social media - how you can optimise their use to serve an objective efficiently, and how sometimes what you write can come back to bite you.


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