Social media fans fires of dissent

national November 14, 2013 00:00

By ASINA PORNWASIN
THE NATION

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SOCIAL MEDIA plays an important role as a key online channel for people to keep abreast of the current political climate and protest movement. Social media usage across services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pantip.com in Thailand have surged ove



Social media analyst ZocialEye.com took the pulse of social media usage in Thailand between October 12 and November 11. It found that Twitter was the most used social media channel for protesting the controversial amnesty bill with over 800,000 messages in total.
The phrase sood-soi, meaning go to the end of the soi, was the top mentioned across social media platforms on the night of November 6.
Another notable trend was that increased numbers of women were talking about politics over social media. According to experts, normally the ratio of men to women discussing politics is 70:30. Over the last month it has levelled to around 60:40.
On Pantip.com, there were over 6,000 politics and amnesty bill-related topics boasting more than 198,399 comments in total.
Meanwhile, 2,382 photographs relating to the amnesty bill were posted onto Instagram with a total of 500,000 likes.
The top three images on Instagram, with over 10,000 likes each, were pictures of @babymelony, the actress from Channel 7, http://instagram.com/p/gYqxEjCjtd/; @kong_sarawit, the actor from Channel 3, http://instagram.com/p/gejMMCTdr8/; and @loukgolflg http://instagram.com/p/gdWNqspLBi/
With more people than ever using social media to express their opinions, there has been a number of knock-on effects. Several topics have gone ‘viral’ and have spread like wildfire. Meanwhile, the range of different and often opposing viewpoints has led to a number of flashpoints.
“People should thoroughly consider the messages they convey over social media before reproducing them,” said Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, the founder of Zocial Inc, the company that develops ZocialEye.com. “A lot of rumours and fake information have been spread.”
However, it appears that the use of social media is growing more dynamic by the day. After the Senate rejected the amnesty bill and former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban proposed civil disobedience, many people changed their Facebook profile picture from the now familiar black sign with the words ‘against the amnesty bill’ to the Thai flag to signify dissent against the government.
The social media movement has grown quickly and spread out fast. Another example of its growing power during the recent tumult was when a campaign was started against Tan Passakornnatee, chairman and chief executive officer of Ichitan Group and its green tea beverage Ichitan. The campaign gathered momentum when people claimed that Tan had referred to the protesters on Rajdamneon Road as that ‘little group of people’. Tan, however, made an official announcement to deny he said those words.
 

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