Thai Government Bans Twitter: A big blow to Freedom of Speech

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Social Media sites users in Thailand have been threatened with potential fines and possible jail-time if they use Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and similar sites for electoral purposes.Flag of Thailand

No doubt, it’s an age of social media. In other words, we can say ‘Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter has ruled the world’. But it’s an awkward moment that Thai people are not permitted to speak up their voice through any social media sites. According to Reuters more than 100 police are monitoring social media sites in Thailand to make sure that law is enforced. Not only social media sites, but the threat includes the sending of SMSs, email and any other online correspondence.

Reuters reported, “Any candidates and their supporters will face jail time if they are caught campaigning on social media websites on the evening before the July 3 election,” said Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn, secretary-general of the Election Commission.

Well, it’s fine that if political parties are not able to do campaign through social media sites for certain time, since social media sites directly affects one-another’s decisions. And it’s a universal practice that, political parties are not allowed to run campaign during election for certain time. But it is different in case of Thailand. Not only political parties or candidates but even friends/ThaiPeople are not allowed to discuss about the election on social media sites.

Thai government is effectively preventing friends discussing the election“, writes Jon Russell in Asian Correspondent. Today’s election is believed to revitalize democracy in Thailand after six years of crisis, but if people are not allowed to talk about election, then how this election can revitalize democracy? – A big question has been raised.

According to Reuters, “If we can track the origin of (an online message) right away, we will block the site and make an arrest. But if the sites are registered overseas and we can’t check the origin, we’ll first block it and ask the IP (Internet Protocol) providers for further investigation,” said police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri of the social media ban.

The law on political campaigning through online media is not new, but it has only become an issue as sites like Facebook and Twitter have grown popular in Thailand in recent years. Is it logical to ban people to talk about elections on Social Media Sites?

One third of the population of Thailand has internet access. Among them Twitter has around 1 million users and Facebook has nearly 10 million users in Thailand. And some political parties are managing their Facebook Fan Page effectively since social media channels are an important channel for Thai politicians and political parties.

What is your thought about bans on Twitter and Facebook in Thailand?

News Source: Reuters

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