Social media 'major' protest medium

Social media will become the major communication platform for news updates and political engagement during the Bangkok shutdown protest, because both sides probably feel the mainstream media may be unfair in its coverage, according to a consulting firm.

But users should be very careful what they post, because it could have unintended consequences, Teera Kanokkanjanarat, senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan, warned.

Mr Teera said he expected the social media to become the main channel of communication, particularly if the protest is prolonged and national television broadcasters and major newspapers become targets of occupation by the protesters.

“This year social media websites and applications, such as Facebook and Line, have evolved from being either just a chat app or sharing tool to become major communication megaplatforms. These platforms offer services beyond simple chat conversation to free voice and video calls and sharing media on Timeline,” he said. 

Thailand has approximately 18.5 million users of Facebook, of a total 25 million total internet users in the country. Line had closed the gap with 18 million users at the end of 2013.

Frost & Sullivan said it found that some mobile operators experienced more than 300% increase in data usage during the New Year, but he expected usage will continue to grow as users engage more in conversation, watching internet TV and constantly share  news updates about the protest.

Mr Teera advised users to send data via social media with caution, and check the validity and authenticity of messages before sharing them. Once people share a story on a social network, they also share part of the responsibility for its consequences, Mr Teera said.

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