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Political row dominates timelines on social media

Not surprisingly, the timelines of many Thai social-media users have been full of political announcements and opinions, especially since it has been nearly a week since the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) launched its "Bangkok shutdown" campaign.

Just after 1am yesterday, the mood on my Twitter timeline changed dramatically, with reports of a bomb being lobbed at a PDRC march on Banthad Thong Road.

The website went into overdrive as people began sharing information, photographs and updates on the incident.

Initially, nobody knew what had happened, with many saying they heard an explosion. After that, people began posting minute-by-minute updates, including on the hunt for the attacker. Some Tweeple were reporting from the scene, while others monitored reports on the Bluesky channel and other media.

The mood was intense, especially since the attack had taken place in daylight, in downtown Bangkok and at a time when the PDRC leader was leading a crowd of protesters down the road.

However, before the attack, updates on social media were like any other day.

For instance, @ifine's update on Tuesday read: "Thais have good humour about everything. #SuthepTourLiveinBKK2014 is very funny", explaining that PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban visited all rally sites like a popular singer on a concert tour.

When asked on Thursday night where social-media users "checked in" since the Bangkok shutdown rallies began, @Nuttaputch immediately responded: "At office," while others mentioned protest venues.

@NidaYimJa said: "At Siam [Square area]", referring to the Pathumwan intersection rally site, while @Saiyai said she just drove around Bangkok enjoying the light traffic. @KettKhung said he visited the Victory Monument, Lat Phrao intersection and Lumpini rally sites.

@Chompu_Kusuma said she had visited all PDRC rally sites, with the exception of the one at Chaeng Wattana, while @Yui_Project said she went to Asoke, Victory Monument and Lat Phrao intersection.

On Facebook, Pradya Wongworakun said he had visited the Asoke and Pathumwan rally sites, Nong Imarkom said she went to Lat Phrao, while Loong Toom Komson said he joined the rally on Asoke twice.

Siripan Tantineeranart said she had joined rallies at the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana, Pathumwan, Ratchaprsong, and Lumpini as well as the mini-rally at Chidlom.

Vorapa Tkul said her contribution was distributing bread among protesters at Lat Phrao because many of them had come from the provinces. She also visited the rallies at Ratchaprasong, Pathumwan and Victory Monument rally sites.

Anna Nattaya said she visited the Asoke rally every day.

According to a recent poll conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), 21.5 per cent of the protesters were at the Pathumwan rally, 21 per cent at Ratchaprasong, nearly 15 per cent at Victory Monument, some 13 per cent at Lat Phrao and 12 per cent at Asoke.

On the other hand, some people have also been tweeting and sharing pictures of quiet candle-lit protests against the PDRC rallies.

For instance, @Satipage yesterday re-tweeted a picture of a candle-lighting ceremony from Rajabhat Nakhon Ratchasima University, using the hashtag #RespectMyVote, while @PanusD - via the We Vote Facebook page - tweeted photographs from Chachoengsao and Thammasat University Rangsit campus.


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