Twitter vague on preventing Thai election misinformation

Mr Gujral says Thailand is second only to South Korea for K-pop tweets.

Twitter says it is committed to preventing misinformation in elections around the world, but offers sparse details on specific elections like Thailand's.

"Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process, which is a cornerstone for all democracies," said a Twitter spokesperson. "We are committed to providing a service that fosters and facilitates free and open democratic debate and that promotes positive change in the world. We've made a number of changes to our product, policies and approach to enforcement, to help enhance and protect the electoral process and to address the behaviours that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter."

The company was widely criticised following the 2016 US presidential election for being a hotbed of Russian-based fake accounts and racist trolls inhibiting speech and spreading false information.

Since then, the company has increased efforts to reduce election manipulation on its platform. Last December, the site deleted 15 accounts in Bangladesh it said were attempting to maliciously influence the country's upcoming election. Twitter identifies around 8-10 million "suspicious" accounts a week.

The company has a policy team based in Singapore that works with governments, including the Thai government regarding elections.

Arvinder Gujral, Twitter's managing director of Southeast Asia, said Thailand is one of the company's fastest growing markets globally, but would not disclose user numbers for the country.

"With regards to fake news, elections and bots, our No.1 priority globally is health conversations on the platform," he said. "We have specific initiatives like user reports and machine learning to remove and deprioritise Tweets on the timeline."

Mr Gujral said in Thailand, Twitter was first swarmed by the K-pop fandom to discuss their favourite bands, but in the past few years, conversations have expanded to include Thai TV and music, and most recently, politics and pollution. The recent government decision to move election day caused a flurry of political discussion on Twitter.

While the impact of Twitter in Thailand is quite small compared to Facebook, around 51% of Thai Twitter users access the site every day. Thailand has the most K-pop tweets per year (800 million tweets), behind only South Korea.

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