Political battles go online

Political battles go online - MS Punyawee...

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MS Punyawee Atiphatthanatakorn BBA9/1 Political battles go online The social networking phenomenon Facebook is being used as a tool by shadowy groups to hunt down and attack their political opponents In a tense corner of the city during the unrest two months ago, office workers were the public address system of their Silom high-rise. All the workers gathered downstairs to show their respect, except for one woman who refused to leave her desk as she thought that it was unnecessary to show where her loyalties lie. She had also refused to donate money to provide water to soldiers stationed on Silom Road during the violence-plagued political stand-off. As a result, she says, she was ridiculed and slandered in her workplace for two months until she finally resigned. The young woman's father, Rungroj Wannasuthorn, has been an outspoken political activist for the past 38 years. Since mid-April he has been subject to virulent attacks on Facebook and other online formats by a group that goes by the name of Social Sanction. "I'm a fighter for democracy, not a red shirt," he asserted. "In Thailand, when you make a pronouncement in favour of some political attitude or belief, the other side feels you must be their enemy. I have written many articles about the Peoples' Alliance for Democracy [PAD] over the past two years. Because of this, all the writers and columnists in that wing feel that I am their enemy." Mr Rungroj was also attacked in the cyber world by hard-core red shirt supporters when he started to talk more about democracy than the issues that the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) favoured - namely constitutional amendments and an early general election. Coinciding with the convergence of tens of thousands of red shirt UDD supporters on Bangkok on March 12, Thais have become increasingly active online. About mid-way through the lengthy protest the online volume of passionate political
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views shared among friends and colleagues reached a new peak. In his Asian Correspondent blog titled "Politics Drives Record Facebook Growth in Thailand", Jon Russell stated that "a cursory glance at Facebook's own estimation for users aged over 18 in Thailand shows 2,787,320, a staggering increase of 288,360 new members since my last check on 7 April. That's a record 11.5% increase in the two weeks [of April 2010] during which Facebook became a key place for political discussion, news reporting, and political organisation - it is even being monitored by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology." While most people express their opinions online through communications with groups they agree with, there are also those who enjoy seeking out groups they disagree with and playing the devil's advocate. Then there are those who prefer to silence rather than debate those who do not share
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Political battles go online - MS Punyawee...

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