The Nation



Social media in overdrive amid dramatic events

SOCIAL MEDIA coverage of events in Thailand, especially Bangkok, yesterday seemed like deja vu, as there were a lot of people with Thai flags flying out on the streets around the capital.

The only difference was that there were two other main focuses on the timeline - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's tour of Udon Thani and Nong Khai and the bloody bomb attacks in Songkhla's Sadao district. These three events were on social media's timeline at the same time.

There was text, photos and videos of the progress of the People's Democratic Reform Committee's rally reported via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by mainstream journalists and the protesters themselves.

Sitting in front of their computer, smartphone or tablet and staying tuned to social media, people were fed real-time updates from all rally sites.

Around noon, they were also informed of the PM's visit in Udon Thani and Nong Khai, then in the afternoon they got the breaking news of bomb attacks in Songkhla.

On social media in the days before, during the last march, people were divided into two main types of moods - supporter and opponent. Both sides had been showing their signs on their social media timeline.

For example, a supporter posted a pic of supplies for those joining the rally such as whistles, T-shirts, wristbands, ribbons and knitted wool caps with Thai flag designs, with words saying they were ready to join the march yesterday.

The mood and tone were like they were preparing stuff for going on a picnic or to a festival rather than joining a protest.

They also changed profile pictures with the main message "reform before election".

Opponents were also more active. They showed disagreement with the PDRC rallies by posting messages saying they back the February 2 poll. They want the country to go ahead in a democratic way such as the holding of the election. They also changed Facebook profiles to "Supporting the election on Feb 2".

Some protesters posted photos to prove they were not hired to attend the rallies, such as two women showing themselves on a Benz with a Thai flag tied to the car's side mirror.

There were "influencers" who joined the rally, who appeared on social media, such as Narong Chokwatana and Danai Chanchaochai (@dc_danai) DMG's chief executive officer.

Also, Rajavithi Hospital set up a mobile care unit at Victory Monument to provide first aid for the protesters.

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