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Twitter suspends Thai royalist linked account which spread pro-government propaganda

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PHOTO: Twitter: Screenshot

A Thai royalist-linked account was suspended on Twitter following a review by Reuters reporters that found the account spread posts in favour of His Majesty the King and the monarchy in what appeared to be a tactic to sway the public opinion.

While ongoing protests are calling on monarchy reform with statements considered unprecedented and taboo in Thai society, Reuters says they found tens of thousands of tweets from accounts amplifying the pro-government agenda, which an expert claims is a move to counter the pro-democracy movement.

While not directly linked, internal army training documents leaked to reporters show the Royal Thai Army used Twitter to spread pro-government propaganda and discredit the now-disbanded Future Forward Party. Hundreds of the Twitter accounts linked to the Army were suspended in October.

The account @jitarsa_school, created in September with 48,000 followers, was suspended after Reuters reporters reached out to Twitter for comment about the pro-monarchy accounts. A representative from Twitter told Reuters that the account violated the rules and that the suspension was not due to the reporters’ review.

“The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation.”

Twitter suspends Thai royalist linked account which spread pro-government propaganda | News by Thaiger

Reuters found that of the 48,000 accounts following @jitarsa_school, 80% of them were created since the start of September. Reuters says thousands of the “bot-like” accounts only promoted royalist hashtags. Some hashtags shared by @jitarsa_school translate to #StopViolatingTheMonarchy, #ProtectTheMonarchy, #WeLoveTheMotherOfTheLand, #WeLoveTheMonarchy and #MinionsLoveTheMonarchy.

While the account does not appear to be associated with the Royal Thai Army, the activity is similar. In October, Twitter suspended 926 accounts linked to the Royal Thai Army which were “amplifying pro-government propaganda.” At the time, the army said they were not associated with the accounts.

Recently, a 28-page document showing the army’s plan to target opponents and spread pro-monarchy messages was leaked. The army claims the plan was used as a public relations training exercise.

While Twitter only suspended 926 accounts, the documents says that 17,562 Twitter accounts were run by 9,743 army officers. The army officers were split into a “White Team” and a “Grey/Black Team.” According to the document, the accounts were aimed to appear like authentic accounts and officers were instructed to tweet with coordinated hashtags and retweet each other’s posts.

SOURCE: Reuters

 

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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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