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Thai authorities push to ban, censor news outlets and social media

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police are now cracking down on local media outlets covering the pro-democracy protests as well as activist group Facebook pages because they are a “threat to national security”. In addition to the police’s request to ban the content, the Digital Economy and Society Ministry is attempting to censor the Telegram social media application, saying it too poses a “threat to national security.”

The young Thai protesters are tapping into a strong social media network, and have “weaponised” the social and messaging platforms. The main App they are now using, to communicate their intentions, is “Telegram”, developed by a young Russian couple but now operating out of Germany. The App features encypted messages, impossible to track, and has 400 million monthly active users.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video telephony and voice over IP service with end-to-end encryption for secret chat only, whereas Cloud chat uses client-server/server-client encryption and its messages are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud – Wikipedia

The Free Youth movement Facebook page, which is run by pro-democracy activists, as well as Voice TV, Prachatai, The Reporters and The Standard could be shut down or censored following the warnings (the Free Youth Facebook page is still available as of 8.30pm Monday). National Police Chief Suwat Jangyodsuk signed an order, which circulated on social media, requesting the Telecommunications Commission and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to ban those media outlets and the Facebook page.

The State of Emergency imposed early last Thursday morning bans public gatherings of more than 5 people, but also allows authorities to ban media that is considered a threat to national security.

Earlier this morning, a journalist from The Reporters said the order was not yet official and she would continue doing her duty and report on the pro-democracy protests.

Many other journalists as well as protesters and critics have spoken up against the move to silence the media. The former finance minister and government critic Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala posted on his Facebook page saying Thailand was taking steps back to a “complete dictatorship.”

Over the weekend the Bangkok Post also came under fire for reporting false information about the reason for the closedown of the BTS and MRT networks on Saturday. They eventually were forced into a retraction of the misinformation. One of their reporters, who had been covering the protests on Facebook Live feeds, has also been either dismissed or has resigned, over his “commentary” that was out of step with the Post’s editorial framework.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

 

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    This will do no good.
    These lovable young scamps will communicate through the online game sites.
    Remember these revolutionaries are students. They are intelligent. They are not downtrodden
    witless peasants.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, October 19, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      A big but not expected mistake. The media will continue to report anyway, since Thailand is not N Korea, and it will simply become more difficult for the government to monitor the students.

      As long as the students don’t escalate the violence even if deliberately provoked (the motorcade incident CANNOT simply have been bad judgement) the result’s becoming more a question of ‘when’ and ‘how’ rather than ‘if’.

  2. Avatar

    Fabian

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Welcome to China 2.0

  3. Avatar

    G Riccella

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    This is what corrupt governments do to hide the truth from it’s people and the world at large. Thailand, you cannot hide from the world, we are watching!!!

    • Avatar

      David

      Monday, October 19, 2020 at 9:08 pm

      Not fair for anyone to compare the Thai government to the CCP. And these college kids are ignorant and naive.

      • Avatar

        Douglas

        Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 12:05 am

        Yeah, you are right. At least in China they know how to run an economy. Not only in Thailand do they treat people as if they have no rights, they also impoverish them and ruin the economy. So yeah, you are right. It is unfair to compare Thailand to the CCP.

        • Avatar

          David

          Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 6:47 am

          There’s far more poverty in China, and the Thai government has been fiscally responsible by avoiding deficits and debt. That’s why the Baht soared in value.The people of Thailand enjoy a great deal of freedom.

  4. Avatar

    PJKelly

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Censorship is right out of the Chinese Communist Party playbook. Not a good look for the Kingdom.

  5. Avatar

    Mark

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    All that will happen will be a repeat of 1973 this time more bloodshed you can’t put democracy down with out loosing face with the world Thailand will not survive even after covid this world would stop coming to Thailand tourism and trade would dry up the government has to start talking to the people now

  6. Avatar

    West Tiger

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    The Junta hates the truth getting out there

  7. Avatar

    TS

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    You’re only making things worse. The more you crackdown, the worse you look and the harder the freedom movement pushes back. Get a clue- leave.

  8. Avatar

    James

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    The students are clever and will get around this silly attempt to stop their communications.

    What stands and is still the main reason for the students’ protests is the government was not elected but placed themselves in power and then turned off democracy in the country, that fact remains and the students will not stop until this is changed.

    The news reported in the UK is the students are demonstrating for democracy and to reduce the powers of the king, the Thai government media are trying to complicate and cloud the issues but they are as simple as that.

    It is just a matter of time, the old people who support the king will die off and more younger people are joining the fight against a tired old system.

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Monday, October 19, 2020 at 10:56 pm

      Totally correct James.

      • Avatar

        James

        Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 2:23 am

        Toby

        We agree for once.

  9. Avatar

    John Barrymore

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Young people may be intelligent but they lack context and perspective and are easily manipulated. Social media has far too much power and a few people determine what headlines and stories are written and circulated. We have entered a phase of free speech for a few and others are censored. I applaud the government’s efforts because the basic demands tear down the foundations of this country, and this is a damn good country.

    The media and social media have caused the covid disaster. It should have been treated like SARS H1N1 in 2010 where there was no mitigation, no shutdowns and after 20% contagion there was herd immunity and the virus died with far fewer deaths. Mitigation and blocking tourism has kept the virus alive and prevented herd immunity and worst of all made poor people much poorer.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 3:15 pm

      It is indeed a “damn good country”, but the rest of your comment is absolute, utter and complete tripe.

      We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts, even “alternate” ones.

      First, “the covid disaster” has NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the protests. The two are completely unconnected and neither side are drawing any connections or links whatsoever. This is just pure fantasy.

      Secondly, and more importantly, name any “basic demand” that “tears down the foundation of this country”. NAME ANY. JUST ONE. IT SHOULDN”T BE HARD.

      But I doubt you actually have the faintest idea what their “basic demands” are, do you?

      For something to be a “foundation” of any country it has, by definition and by its nature, to be more than just three years old.

      … but nothing the protesters are demanding be changed is more than three years old. NOTHING.

      The constitution they are objecting dates to 2017 – the 20th since the constitution was codified in 1932. That original constitution declared that “the highest power in the land belongs to all people”, with a fully elected legislature and a constitutional monarchy.

      That constitution, like it or not, was the “foundation” on which Thailand was made – not the 2017 version, or those imposed by assorted military governments with varying degrees of appointed legislatures and absolute executives.

      They are also objecting to various recent changes to the monarchy, particularly*:

      1. The Crown Property Act of 2017, published in 2018, that transferred the complete portfolio of the Crown Property Bureau worth some US$40 billion, which had been held since 1932 “on behalf of the monarchy and the nation” to the King personally.

      2. The massive increase in the cost of the Royal Office from 4.2bn Baht in 2018 to 9 bn baht (US$290 million) this year, plus 1.2bn Baht from the defence ministry, 1.6bn from the Thai police for royal security, and 7bn for royal development projects – all paid for by the Thai government / Thai taxpayers.

      I’m not questioning whether those changes were right or wrong, or whether or not the protesters are right to want to “tear them down”, but whether you like it or not they’re NOT “the foundations of this country”.

      *: https://www.ft.com/content/251d8aea-6939-4166-afe6-2df0176e0f8f

      • Avatar

        James

        Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 2:28 am

        Issan John

        A nice detailed argument, I am impressed with the structure of your comment.

  10. Avatar

    Political Observer

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    Dear Leader is worth at least $65 million (and is likely worth much more). Corruption is the only way a general could accumlate that much. The junta is a disgrace to humanity. Free Thailand! Restore Democracy!

  11. Avatar

    Man

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Mr Putin wishes good luck with blocking telegram 5555

  12. Avatar

    Thomas

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    It is just proof of the governments failure and gives credibility to the demonstrators. Governments never learn, all this stuff was tried by others before and failed. A good dictator knows that his power is based on peoples happiness, like work, food, money, prosperity. Even the Romans 2000 years ago new that. Bread & games was the idea back than. If you don’t understand this idea you will fail, France 1789, Russia 1917, Germany 1918, Sovjet Union 1991,…

  13. Avatar

    Issan John

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 12:18 am

    It’s far from just “the old people who support the king …”

    It’s more about those supporting the status quo, where your position is pre-ordained at birth and the idea that everyone should be happy to subsist on what they have, vs those against the status quo who think everyone should have an equal chance at social and financial mobility, etc.

    Those supporting the status quo aren’t necessarily monarchists per se, but those who don’t want the social order to change as that’s how it’s “meant to be”.

    Not so long ago in the West it was:

    “The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.”

    … and how many happily sang that without giving it a second’s thought?

    • Avatar

      James

      Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 2:37 am

      Issan John

      Re the quote about “The rich man in his castle…..”

      Not so long ago you said, well I am 64 and it was well before my time as all I can remember is equal opportunities as far as education went (and is still the case) leading to a better life as long as a person had the drive to get off their backside and take up free education and available opportunities, etc.

      There are people today in “The West” who still blame “the rich” or ‘them” or ‘those” for keeping them in their place but they are just lazy and wish to blame others for lack of drive.

  14. Avatar

    patty

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 9:41 am

    This stupid government needs to learn the definition of “threat to national security” because at the moment, the only threat to national security is Prayut, his cronies and the RTP. The actions of the junta in the past week or so especially, speak for themselves. Low and pathetic

  15. Avatar

    John

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Social media is a weaponized tool of the Deep State – they de-platform, or de-rank into oblivion, anyone who is giving out some real truths, while promoting things like “Rap against Dictatorship” to the 90+ million level views.

    Another thing they should ban is the Harry Potter books RE:(https://thethaiger.com/news/bangkok/harry-potter-themed-protest-openly-questions-monarchys-role).
    The books were originally written by ROBERT POTTER the Victorian rail road magnet and satanist, who was the father of Beatrice Webb the co-founder of the London School of Economics. The books were given to JK Rowling to rewrite by Tavistock Institute in itself formed out of Wellington House office of Psychological Warfare.

    Don’t you think that if this was some spontaneous uprising by a bunch of Thai kids they might have picked a Thai theme for it? Like some heroic Thai movie character or mythological figure?? Instead we get salutes from an intel agency sponsored movie that’s already spun one False Flag (Elliot Rodger), and protests from a book that emulates from a sketchy psychological agency.

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 11:17 am

      We approved this post but urge caution by readers due to the many factual errors and conspiracy theories.

  16. Avatar

    Alex

    Friday, October 23, 2020 at 4:23 am

    The truth is always being censored! It’s a threat alright, but only for those who does not want the truth being exposed to the public!

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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