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Facebook/Twitter Banned In Thailand For Election 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-stop-the-signal dept.
societyofrobots writes "In the run up to the July 3rd election in Thailand, use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are banned for campaigning and other election related purposes. Offenders face a maximum six months in prison and a 10,000 baht ($330) fine. The ban includes sending short telephone texts and forwarding emails. 'There will be a unit of more than 100 officers to monitor this,' said police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri of the social media ban. '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,' Prawut said."
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Facebook/Twitter Banned In Thailand For Election

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  • by cgeys (2240696) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:34PM (#36644856)
    They did not ban the use of Twitter, Facebook and social media for election related purposes. This ban is only effect from yesterday 6 PM to today 3 PM until the polls are over. It's a cooling period before the polls, which by the way have already opened. It's so that the candidates and parties or their supporters won't do any cheating or try last minute mass campaigning. Hell, the headline made it sound like some China thing where they banned Facebook and Twitter completely. And I should know, as I live here, have a thai wife and many thai friends.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

      • I don't really see how censoring politicians could ever be a bad thing? Most of the time when politicians speak I get an overwhelming urge to punch them in the face until they shut up! (Senator Conroy I'm looking at you!)

        Seriously though I think this measure was designed by the relatively less corrupt current government to prevent the significantly corrupt former government from using it's ill gotten billions to buy it's way back into office by sending out propaganda to the poorly educated rural population.

        • by skegg (666571)

          I don't really see how censoring politicians could ever be a bad thing ... Senator Conroy I'm looking at you!

          In Soviet Australia, Senator Conroy censors you !

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here in .au it's exactly the same. In the last week (might be days?) before an election the parties are no longer allowed to advertise or campaign. Censoring a political party I see no issue with, as long as all parties are under the same restrictions.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Here in .au it's exactly the same. In the last week (might be days?) before an election the parties are no longer allowed to advertise or campaign. Censoring a political party I see no issue with, as long as all parties are under the same restrictions.

          It's the same in the UK, all TV stations show on the day before a general election is news that there is an election tomorrow, they don't do party political broadcasts or election-related discussion until the polls close.

      • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @01:29AM (#36645148)

        It would constitute censorship under very limited circumstances. It would constitute censorship if new information was discovered in the final hours of the election, and it was prevented from inadvertently reaching the voter due to the blackout.

        But the reality is that new information rarely pops up in those final hours. Because of that, most of the campaigning done would have more to do with manipulating the political process (e.g. presenting misinformation that the other parties cannot respond to). That sort of situation is far more dangerous to democracy than something that a few people could interpret as censorship because they see the world in black-and-white terms.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          this magically assumes that last minute campaigns are somehow different if from twitter/facebook versus doing them in public. Won't people do these last minute campaigning anyway?

          • by MacTO (1161105)

            The article was quite clear that they were expecting a blackout of social media website. That means that it extends beyond Facebook and Twitter. It even includes forwarding emails and SMS. In other words, they're talking about technologies that have an immediacy and reach comparable to television and radio. It is quite different from a lot of last minute campaigning that could be done. If there are regulations regarding last minute campaigning using television and radio, it is extremely different all o

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            They don't campaign in public anyway because it is against the law. It is a cooling off period for all campaigning. Here is the relevant section from Thailand's Electoral law http://www.elections-lebanon.org/elections/docs_6_G_8_1_14.aspx [elections-lebanon.org]
            "Section 48. No person shall make an election campaign by any means, whether it may be favorable or disfavorable to any candidate or political party, from 6:00 pm of the day before the election day to the end of the election day."
            This ban on campaigning is nothing new. All

      • by X.25 (255792) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @02:34AM (#36645270)

        It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

        In many countries election related 'advertising' (or campaigning) is prohibited for 24 hours before election starts.

        No, it's not censorship.

      • by mjwx (966435)
        Lots of nations have an advertising blackout before elections, particularly in some Nordic nations that rate more free then most nations.

        This blackout is to allow people to think who they are voting for, of course if you had of complained that this is pointless because the election is drawn up upon socio economic lines with the poor (majority of Thai's) being supported by the corrupt Pleu Thai party and the rich Thais being supported by the corrupt Democrat party that would be justified. Or if you compla
      • by DrXym (126579)

        It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

        Lot's of countries have similar laws. The UK for example prohibits people making statements while polls are open about the way the vote is going based on exit polls or speculation that could reasonably be interpreted as such. And of making false statements of fact about a candidate. Doing so could land you in prison for 6 months or a £5000 fine. And it's not intended as censorship but to stop people rigging polls, e.g. by passing false comments which could have an adverse affect on voters. And yes twe

      • Political parties are not allows to campaign on the last day preceding the elections in many countries. They have just extended the ban to online mediums.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        Canada has a ban on posting poll results and stats to social media sites during the election as well.

        It's not censorship -- it's an attempt to prevent people who vote later in the day from basing their votes on the results so far in other jurisdictions, which would probably sway the vote rather seriously if that information was made public before polls closed.

        Personally I think every country should have a similar rule in place, and if people can't abide by it, disable social media sites for the duratio

        • by Lord Kano (13027)

          Personally I think every country should have a similar rule in place, and if people can't abide by it, disable social media sites for the duration of polling.

          That will never happen in the U.S.A. The constitution specifically prohibits it.

          LK

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Personally I think every country should have a similar rule in place, and if people can't abide by it, disable social media sites for the duration of polling.

            That will never happen in the U.S.A. The constitution specifically prohibits it.

            LK

            So change your constitition, it's just a collection of two hundred year old words, not the fucking Ten Commandments.

      • In the US, you can't campaign within so many feet of a polling place. How is this different?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Same in Canada, although in our case it's so that results on the east coast aren't transmitted to the west coast, where they're still voting, until AFTER the election is actually over.

      While I don't like it all that much, it's really not that onerous.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Scutter (18425)

        So, since it's only a little bit of government censorship, it's OK? How much until it's not OK anymore?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That's up for us to decide. Just like a little air conditioning is ok, or a little dessert, or a little alcohol.

          Believe it or not, humans don't live in a world of absolutes, there are things that are acceptable in moderation.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            That's up for us to decide. Just like a little air conditioning is ok, or a little dessert, or a little alcohol.

            Believe it or not, humans don't live in a world of absolutes, there are things that are acceptable in moderation.

            Not for the libertarian slashtards. If you so much as criticise someone when they spout vile fascist nonsense, you're denyin them the right to free speech and are therefore a fascist. Or something.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @12:18AM (#36644996) Journal

          So, since it's only a little bit of government censorship, it's OK?

          Well, yes. More generally, it's a little bit of censorship that is very limited both in time and in scope, and which has a well-defined goal that the society considers important (fair elections).

          Considering that, as far as censorship goes, this is far less significant than, say, criminalizing "incitement to riot", Americans should be familiar with the overall idea.

        • Which movie were you picturing in your head during that obvious karma bait?

    • by Lanteran (1883836)
      Thank you. That is all.
    • ... cheating ...

      How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

      ... or try last minute mass campaigning ...

      You mean the military junta and royalty-approved stooges or enemies of a renegade billionaire would be put at a further disadvantage yet?

      Isn't "campaigning" what politicians do (many of them sadly even stopping at campaigning altogether)?

      Aren't you a bit fuzzy on that whole election idea thing?

      Hell, the headline made it sound like some China thing where they banned Fac

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

        People (you're familiar with them?) are essentially lazy and reactionary. Get a good whispering campaign going that Sock Puppet X is already heading for a landslide victory, and people either won't bother turning out to vote for them, or will vote for Sock Puppet Y just out of contrariness.

        • Only of course the same will happen if the "whispering campaign" happens 2 days before, 5 days before etc. What then? Ban on all media appearances and all political communications 2 months before elections? Where does this end?

          • No. 2 days before, people can only say that they think X will win. Two hours before the polls close, they can say that can say that according to ballots already counted, or according to exit polls, X ALREADY HAS won. Completely different thing.

            And this is not a theoretical risk. Follow political news and you see this type of electoral fraud happening fairly often.

            • No. 2 days before, people can only say that they think X will win. Two hours before the polls close, they can say that can say that according to ballots already counted, or according to exit polls, X ALREADY HAS won. Completely different thing.

              No it isn't. In both cases it is mere conjecture. Since "people" do not get to count the votes.

              Exit polls are wrong all the time too.

              As I keep explaining, the true purpose of the law is to give the incumbents, or whomever controls the process, a stick with which to

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Only of course the same will happen if the "whispering campaign" happens 2 days before, 5 days before etc. What then? Ban on all media appearances and all political communications 2 months before elections? Where does this end?

            Ah yes, a brilliant slippery slope argument. Obviously, if you have any interference whatsoever in the absolute freedom to publish anything at any time, you can only end up with an Orwellian nightmare with no freedom at all. All the countries that have anything like this are as oppressive as North Korea. In the UK, we suffer under the horrible evil of not being able to hear politicians lie about each other during election day, it's barely credible that such tyranny can exist.

      • by DrXym (126579)

        How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

        Easily. Just tweet that your opponent came in to vote reeking of drink or was charged with touching a minor or some other slur. Lots of countries put specific regulation around an election to stop this kind of shit and remedies for when it does happen.

        • Easily. Just tweet that your opponent came in to vote reeking of drink or was charged with touching a minor or some other slur.

          And this will not work if you use anonymous posters put up at night by masked provocateurs on every street corner or if you broadcast this from a foreign radio station across the border because?

          And the effect will be different if you do it at 11:59pm of the day before the ban how exactly?

          Lots of countries put specific regulation around an election to stop this kind of shit and rem

          • by DrXym (126579)

            And this will not work if you use anonymous posters put up at night by masked provocateurs on every street corner or if you broadcast this from a foreign radio station across the border because? And the effect will be different if you do it at 11:59pm of the day before the ban how exactly?

            Well tell you what go read the UK's Representation of the People Act and see how these offences would be dealt with. I expect a judge would reasonably consider the time that people first receive & read the message than the actual time it was posted.

            All of which countries have highly ... err ... colorful history surrounding elections, such as missing ballot boxes and bodies of candidates found in the river. Face it, the only places that have such laws are banana "republics" and fake "democracies" run by military juntas and God-appointed "kings". Like, say, Thailand.

            Nonsense. Every democracy in existence puts laws in place to protect and ensure that elections are free and fair. And in most countries that includes restrictions on what people may say or do while the vote is in progress or some period before. It's laughable

            • Well tell you what go read the UK's Representation of the People Act and see how these offences would be dealt with. I expect a judge would reasonably consider the time that people first receive & read the message than the actual time it was posted.

              Right. And then the judge, by use of powers arcane and divine, and upon consultation of tarot cards and Ouija board, will determine which of the many factions did that.

              Oh, you mean this works only for a two "party" system?

              Well then, a clever guy could run

              • by DrXym (126579)

                Right. And then the judge, by use of powers arcane and divine, and upon consultation of tarot cards and Ouija board, will determine which of the many factions did that.

                No dummy, the police will and the cps will prosecute.

                Except of course what you describe has nothing whatsoever to do with "fairness". The laws of this kind are meant to give advantage to the whomever is tightening his grip on power. They are positively Orwellian in that they do precisely the opposite of what they claim to. While everyone is effectively muzzled, the "protectors" get to "be sadly forced by the perfidy of the opposition" to "make a one time exception" to "refute" "outrageous claims" on the, usually national, TV. While the "upstart rabble" does not, of course.

                Yes it's absolutely to do with fairness. Perhaps in some paranoid other reality you think it's a-ok for politicians to be standing outside polling stations, tweeting, leafleting on polling day telling people their opponent is a kiddie fiddler or some other scare tactic. Back in reality most modern democracies recognize that elections require extra legislation to ensure everything is as fair as possible.

                Yes, right. Preferably 10 years before. Or is that too short? If not, why? An arbitrary ban is arbitrary. The "logic" applicable to a 1 day ban is exactly the same that applies to a 1 week ban, 1 month and so on.

                Now you're just being stupid. Willfully stupid.

                • No dummy, the police will and the cps will prosecute.

                  How!? I keep asking this question and you keep replying "yea, they will!". Any broadcast from foreign soil is out of jurisdiction. By definition. Even more so if the idiotic law in question is not applicable in the country of origin. So unless they plan to invade, there is no way they can determine if the broadcast was by the party that is supposedly "set-up", in a false-flag operation, or by the actual opponents. None whatsoever.

                  And the Internet introd

                  • by DrXym (126579)

                    How!? I keep asking this question and you keep replying "yea, they will!". Any broadcast from foreign soil is out of jurisdiction. By definition. Even more so if the idiotic law in question is not applicable in the country of origin. So unless they plan to invade, there is no way they can determine if the broadcast was by the party that is supposedly "set-up", in a false-flag operation, or by the actual opponents. None whatsoever. And the Internet introduces a whole new level of impossibilities.

                    I haven't said "yes they will" in all circumstances. I apologise for making statements that any reasonable and sane person would have no trouble following. It appears that you think that since not all crime can be prosecuted (in this instance interference with an election) that laws should not exist to describe said crimes and their punishment. It's a bizarre and wilfully stupid assertion.

                    You keep using this word, "fair", and I don't think you have any clue what it means. Fair is when small parties, with tiny budgets, can run ads right before the election because their impact diminishes rapidly over time and when there is a 2 week "cooling period" it greatly advantages the few top "establishment" parties. So it is yet another reason in a myriad of why laws like that are unfair. Always. Fair is when speech of any non-establishment opponent is not muzzled during elections. Unfair is when laws are made to muzzle it in the name of "fairness" (to the establishment). Fair is when laws are not made to be used as a witch hunt tool when some false-flag operator releases "smears" against a major incumbent party candidate on the Internet and which then causes the opposition to be accused of breaking this "holly law".

                    I'm starting to see now. You're paranoid AND stupid. False flag operation... for fuck's sake. Embargoes around certain a

          • And this will not work if you use anonymous posters put up at night by masked provocateurs on every street corner or if you broadcast this from a foreign radio station across the border because?

            That's like saying there's no point in making bank robbery illegal because people can still burgle houses.

            And the effect will be different if you do it at 11:59pm of the day before the ban how exactly?

            Because the media can still fact check the claim and report during the campaigning ban.

            All of which countries have highly ... err ... colorful history surrounding elections, such as missing ballot boxes and bodies of candidates found in the river.

            I already gave you the UK when you asked for one counter-example. Actually AFAIK this is common practice in Europe, many countries of which, just like the UK, have far less corruption in elections than the US. (Whilst of course there are other European countries that have more election corruption than the US.)

            Face it, the only places that have such laws are banana "republics" and fake "democracies" run by military juntas and God-appointed "kings". Like, say, Thailand.

            Face it,

            • That's like saying there's no point in making bank robbery illegal because people can still burgle houses.

              No, its like saying there is no point to have Sharia law declare that all women have to wear burkas because they can escape to the West and wear skirts there...

              See what I did here? Your "analogy" is as bullshit.

              Because the media can still fact check the claim and report during the campaigning ban.

              And since media is usually owned by one of the incumbents these days, or one of the moneyed challengers,

              • And since media is usually owned by one of the incumbents these days, or one of the moneyed challengers, it can also "report facts" that the other guy happens to be accused of child molestation, 3 hours before the polls close.

                And if that's a problem in practice rather than theory, then it may be time to look at the rules again. In the UK it isn't. Thankfully there's no Fox News equivalent here. Deal with your own broken political process.

                Furthermore, it is a sure sign that any "democracy" or "republic" which enacts such laws which originate in the banana republics I mentioned) is in a steep decline and on its way to autocracy. See also under: UK, Australia etc

                Having been proved wrong on your claim that it was only banana-republics that do this, you'r'e now trying to put the cart before the horse that say that any country that does this is thus heading towards a banana republic. Even though such rules are long standing.

                You're living up to your usernam

                • And if that's a problem in practice rather than theory, then it may be time to look at the rules again. In the UK it isn't. Thankfully there's no Fox News equivalent here. Deal with your own broken political process.

                  Except, as I keep pointing out, and which you keep studiously ignoring, these "rules" make no sense whatsoever in theory and practice both. You, nor any of the other posters here, provided a shred of evidence that these laws actually help democracy in any way, although you did engage in a lot o

                • by DrXym (126579)

                  Having been proved wrong on your claim that it was only banana-republics that do this, you'r'e now trying to put the cart before the horse that say that any country that does this is thus heading towards a banana republic. Even though such rules are long standing.

                  Yup poor old IgnoramusMaximus has just demonstrated a live example of "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy. Apparently other democracies are "banana republics" because their definition of free and fair elections does not fit his own. They can't be true democracies, oh no.

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            And Australia
            Under Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a 'blackout' from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the end of polling on the Saturday. This three-day blackout effectively provides a "cooling off" period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on televis

    • It could also be a way to make sure the candidates and parties or their supporters don't do any real-time independent reporting or double-checking. After all, it's far easier to mess with the results of an election through the television networks and the government infrastructure if you're part of the government, than to try control what people are going to say to their family or their friends on Twitter or Facebook.

    • In the Scottish election in 2007, the nationals party were set in the polls for a landslide victory and on the morning the polls opened, virtually every national newspaper in Scotland had an enormous full-front page spread containing much misleading information. This enormously expensive smear campaign had a huge effect and though the nationals still crept into power, it was only by a narrow margin leaving them largely toothless for four years.

      Here's an interesting article on cooling off periods for thos

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      As fellow living in Thailand as well this is the first I heard about any such ban and have been using twitter and facebook everyday. Also, 100 officers to monitor the whole internet? Good luck with that.

  • outrageous! (Score:3, Informative)

    by B3ryllium (571199) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:45PM (#36644876) Homepage

    that is outrageous! this would never happen in a civilized country ... like Canada.

    oh wait.

    • Elections Canada was widely criticized for this but at least they had a particular objection which was restricted to posting premature or false election results, rather then "campaigning", "inciting to vote" and the like, which is what the Thai elites are worried about.

      In Canada this action was a direct consequence of a law intended to stop poll manipulation by mass media during the election. The idea itself is very controversial (i.e. the idea that people are influenced by such data and change their votes

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Well it seems between Elections Canada and various elections boards in the US, EC has the right idea. Anyone who's paid attention to the polls and the media spouting their favorite top floppy head on election night, for or against has a direct impact on the outcome.

        • Except, of course, that any such censorship ideas are completely unworkable, not to mention inherently undemocratic.

          The true solution is education of electorate but that would be rather inconvenient to far too many would-be "leaders". Censorship laws on the other hand are meant to empower establishment con-men and professional public opinion manipulators under the very pretense of "protecting fairness of the elections" from these same individuals. Truly Orwellian pieces of work they are.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            So wait. Attempting to stop groups from directly influencing an election especially media outlets is undemocratic? I dunno. Seems to me to be the opposite. As that small minority(20%), who swing are the ones who actually make or break the vote.

            See I generally have a problem when a news outlet comes out a few hours before polls close and tries to influence an electoral outcome. To me that's undemocratic, and vote tampering.

            • So wait. Attempting to stop groups from directly influencing an election especially media outlets is undemocratic?

              Except, which I keep pointing out, and which people keep ignoring, a) there is no way to practically stop people from "influencing" an election with information as information is the very currency of elections, b) banning certain forms of announcements only advantages those capable of others, c) if it was really about "fairness" the law, instead of censorship, would be concerned with providing

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        The issue isn't Westerners changing their vote it is westerners not voting at all. Why vote if the outcome of the elections are already known? At least allow those of us on the west coast the illusion that we have a say in Ottawa. Publishing results in one province before the polls are closed in another is bad form.

        • So the cure to failure of democracy - which has, let's face it, failed completely in most of the West by being successfully tamed and defanged by the oligarchs, mindless consumerism, breakdown of social trust and the like - is censorship?

          "Fucking for virginity", that's what it is.

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Sorry but a restriction for a few hours for the greater good is not censorship it is common sense.

            • Sorry but a restriction for a few hours for the greater good is not censorship it is common sense.

              What "common good"?! Explain. All I want from you and all the other posters to explain, using reason and logic, how censorship is supposed to serve this "common good". So far no-one has been able to do so. Instead I've heard "reasons" such as "they've made it a law so it must be something", "voters can't vote 'right' if given unauthorized - by the authorities - information", "voters are too stupid to vote unsu

  • by benengel (448238) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @02:59AM (#36645344) Homepage

    see here http://www.aec.gov.au/FAQs/election_advertising.htm#blackout [aec.gov.au]

    "This three-day blackout effectively provides a "cooling off" period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising"

    This entire story and headline is slanted to portray what the thais are doing as chinese style censorship when it is nothing of the sort. Many western countries including australia do the exact same thing

  • Pretty much all democratic countries have prohibited political advertising or campaigns during the voting event for some 24-72 hours.

    It's only appropriate 'digital attitude' to note that this restriction doesn't apply only to radio and TV campaigns, but applies to everywhere, including Twitter and Facebook as well.

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