Friday, September 17, 2021

in-focus

Army deployed thousands for anti-democracy Twitter campaign: Progressive Movement


The Progressive Movement has revealed details of its research on an alleged information operation (IO) campaign run by Thai authorities to discredit the pro-democracy movement.

2334

View

The Twitter-based online campaign involves more than 50,000 IO accounts, 17,562 of which are controlled by the 2nd Infantry Division, Queen Sirikit's Guard, the Progressive Movement’s Pannika Wanich said on Tuesday.
Different teams were tasked with different IO duties, said Pannika, speaking to press at the movement’s Bangkok headquarters. An operation team is in charge of liking, sharing and posting information, while a support team has been assigned to create content to slam the pro-democracy demonstrators, she added.
The IO campaign was also backed by private companies, she said.
Pannika was speaking after Twitter suspended a pro-royalist account linked to thousands of others that were flooding social media with pro-monarchy and anti-protest content.
The @jitarsa_school account has been suspended for allegedly violating regulations by flooding Twitter with spam.
Reuters said it had also reviewed internal Army training documents that showed evidence of a coordinated information campaign to spread pro-royalist information and discredit critics of the government and monarchy.
Photographs purporting to show the Army’s IO campaign in action have been circulating on social media.
Last week, leaked slides showed a tweeting campaign run by 17,000 personnel, divided into different content and posting units, and offering instructions on how to avoid being banned by Twitter.
The controversy comes more than a month after Twitter removed 926 accounts it said had concealed links to the Army. At the time, Pannika said the Progressive Movement planned to sue the Army for “using tax money to cause divisions and hatred among Thais”.
On Saturday, exiled academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun said the information operation was controlled by a high-ranking soldier but was “too cheap”.
On the same day, fellow exiled academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul posted a photo of an online chatroom captured by a phone camera. The photo apparently shows subordinates being ordered to comment on posts by a pro-democracy actress and prominent social critic Sulak Sivaraksa.
Somsak commented that the Thai government was in need of reform, which should include scrapping the agencies in charge of the information operation.

Published : December 01, 2020

By : THE NATION