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Cyber policy report: Royal Thai Army recruited Twitter to “cheerlead”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Cyber policy report: Royal Thai Army recruited Twitter to “cheerlead” | The Thaiger
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The Royal Thai Army used Twitter to “cheerlead” for the Army, criticise the Future Forward Party and neutralise criticism after February’s mass shooting where an Army solider killed 30 people and injured 57 others, according to a cyber policy report.

Twitter announced 926 accounts, linked to the Royal Thai Army, have now been suspended for violating the company’s “platform manipulation” policy. Twitter shared information from the accounts with the Stanford Internet Observatory. Stanford’s Cyber Policy Centre released a report they call “Cheerleading Without Fans: A Low-Impact Domestic Information Operation by the Royal Thai Army.”

“The network was used primarily to promote pro-government and pro-military positions and accounts on Twitter and to attack political opposition, particularly the Future Forward Party and Move Forward Party.”

Most of the accounts were created in January 2020 and activity stopped around March 2020 with content heavily concentrated around the mass shooting and the now-dissolved Future Forward Party and Move Forward Party. Stanford says it was a coordinated, but “relatively unsophisticated,” low-impact operation. They say most of the accounts had no followers with empty bio sections and used stolen profile photos. Altogether, the network had 21,385 tweets.

In February, an Army soldier shot and killed 30 people, including his commander, and injured 57 others in Nakhon Ratchasima. The soldier had obtained 3 pistols, a shotgun and a rifle through the Army’s “welfare gun” program. He opened fire at the base before going to a nearby shopping centre and firing at civilians.

The shooting brought criticism to the military and government with trending hashtags in Thai that translate to “Reform the Military” and “Prayut RIP.” Stanford says the Army’s social media network tried to “neutralise criticism.” Some accounts amplified tweets that redirected criticism away from the Army, like criticising media outlets for their coverage of the shooting, and blaming some for spreading “fake news.”

Some accounts “glorified” the military’s response to the shooting and reemphasised their responsibility to “serve and to protect the people.”

In both cases, tweets were overwhelmingly retweets, indicating that accounts were primarily attempting to amplify existing messages rather than create their own narratives.

The Army’s accounts also supported the Constitutional Court’s ruling to dissolve the Future Forward Party and “celebrated” the end of the opposition party. One tweet translates to “For me, I think the court’s decision was decisive but FFP’s reactions to it were immature.” The Army also posted “cheerleading” hashtags like #กองทัพบกเพื่อประชาช, meaning “army for the people.” The account even “praised” the Army’s efforts at combating the spread of Covid-19.

Click HERE to read the full report by Stanford Internet Observatory Cyber Policy Center.

SOURCE: Stanford Internet Observatory

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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.

Protests

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

Caitlin Ashworth

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

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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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19

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Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19 | The Thaiger

Thailand News Today, a daily wrap up of the day’s news, delivered, free on YouTube and Facebook. Thailand’s most popular English-speaking news program, hosted by Tim Newton. Please subscribe to the YouTube Channel.

House speaker proposes extraordinary parliamentary session in wake of political unrest

A weekend of intense protest gatherings has resulted, if nothing else, in the Thai Parliament’s lower house speaker proposing an extraordinary session of parliament to discuss the current protest situation and a possible way forward.

The speaker of the lower house, Chuan Leekpai, has been discussing the matter with government and opposition MPs today.

Anti-government protests, which began in mid-July, have grown in intensity and frequency, as activists demand the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the dissolution of parliament, and fresh elections. They are also calling for a re-write of the constitution and for reform of the role of the Thai Monarchy.

Most observers see the current demands, laid out by protest leaders in a 10-point manifesto, as a “bridge too far”, and that there is little room for compromise in the current political structure. The government’s pro-royalist and conservative agenda, and its support from the Thai Army, is in stark contrast to the protester’s demands for greater democracy, reforms in Parliament and the role of the country’s revered monarchy.

Several protest leaders have already been arrested and the PM has declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok, banning gatherings of more than 5 people. Protesters continued to defy the ban over the weekend, assembling in their thousands, both in the capital and around the country.

On Friday night, riot police used high powered water cannons to force an end to a peaceful protest at the Pathumwan intersection, a decision greeted with widespread criticism from human rights groups, political observers and social media.

Last night, protesters gathered in their thousands at Victory Monument, the Asok-Sukhumvit intersection, by the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre and marched to the Bang Na intersection as well. Another 20 locations outside of Bangkok also hosted pro-democracy protests including the central provinces outside of the city in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, in Khon Kaen, Phuket, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai and Pattaya.

Thai PM adopts more conciliatory tone with protesters

Meanwhile, it appears that the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has switched gear to a softer tone with the young protesters calling for his resignation.

Following Friday night’s removal of protesters from the Bangkok intersection, the new, more conciliatory tone coming out of government house over the past three days has been broadly welcomed… certainly by the protesters.

The approach is in stark contrast with Friday evening’s statements from the PM that he had no intention of resigning, and that the riot police had acted “within the law”.

A government spokesman was also quoted as saying the administration is willing to listen to the issues being discussed and work to find solutions.

“The government is willing to listen to everyone’s problems and continues to solve problems in all areas.”

Meanwhile the protesters have spent most of the weekend demanding that the arrested protesters be released immediately.

Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists

Koh Samui needs more visitors, from anywhere. A number of hotels on the island are now certified for alternative local state quarantine and tourism officials are looking to lure travellers in with cheaper flights.

But getting the prices down could be difficult. President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says both the airport and pier are owned by the private sector, in the case of the airport, Bangkok Airways.

The Bangkok Airways’ monopoly has kept the cost of air fares to Samui inordinately high, when compared to most other air travel costs around the country.

Lucky escape for chickens in Udon Thani as crocodile caught trying to enter coop

And plucky rescue workers in the north-eastern province of Udon Thani have ruined a hungry crocodile’s dinner plans, capturing it as it was trying to enter a chicken coop.

Local rescuers were called to remove the 3 metre long croc as it was attempting to enter the chicken enclosure and enjoy some lunch.

It’s understood it took the workers, who admit to having no experience in handling crocodiles, around an hour to wrestle the crocodile and get a rope around its mouth. It then needed 5 men to transport the croc to a waiting vehicle, with the animal putting up a fight the whole way. The homeowner says she believes the animal escaped from captivity at a nearby crocodile farm.

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Environment

New delivery application focuses on reducing Thailand’s food waste

Caitlin Ashworth

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New delivery application focuses on reducing Thailand’s food waste | The Thaiger

The following story was sent to The Thaiger from the Yindii, a business focused on sustainability and reducing waste produced from the food industry.

Yindii, a Thai anti-food-waste startup, launches a mobile application designed to match hungry, deal-seeking Bangkok residents with environmentally-conscious restaurants, grocery stores and cafes offering delicious food that could otherwise go to waste. Through its discounted “flash sales,” Yindii helps battle an escalating societal problem while enabling restaurants to gain potentially lost revenue.

Yindii’s mobile application is designed to be a direct-to-consumer platform created for restaurants and cafes who can create exclusive and immediate “Happy Hour Deals” offers regularly, with up to discount from 50 to 70%. Once a Yindii box offer is published, Yindii users can then purchase the Yindii box before heading to the restaurant to collect their items or getting them delivered. Transactions are completed electronically.

Consumers can discover what is inside when they open their surprise gift box. Aside from the savings – and committing to the reduction of food waste – consumers benefit from the app by connecting with their favourite food joints to easily find highly discounted items.

“33% of all food produced globally is wasted or lost every year. That is close to a billion and a half tons which is never consumed, accounting for 8% of the greenhouse gas emissions around the globe, 4 times more polluting than the airline industry. All this is an ecological disaster!”

“The growing problem of food waste is challenging to solve for endless reasons including logistics, the complexities of short-lived items and the lack of a set market, which is what we are working to help solve – with a simple system for people and restaurants of surplus food to connect and enact.” – Yindii founder and tech entrepreneur Louis-Alban Batard-Dupre

“All the food available on Yindii is delicious and untouched, coming from premium places, that just cannot wait for tomorrow to be eaten. Think about pastries in coffee shops or fresh meals in restaurants. Our community, the Food Waste Fighters, can rescue the food and provide access to quality meals at an affordable price.”

For the first 100 users who download the app, Yindii is offering free delivery up to 5km from any store with the code: SAVETHEPLANET.

Available for download on Apple’s app store for iOS devices and on Google Play for Android devices, the Yindii app features an initial group of restaurants and cafes including: Sofitel Sukhumvit, Veganerie, Ohana Poke, Broccoli Revolution, Delifrance, Sunshine Market, Banana Warrior, among others.

New delivery application focuses on reducing Thailand's food waste | News by The Thaiger

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