In Thai election, new ‘war room’ polices social media
BANGKOK: In Thailand's election "war room", authorities scroll through thousands of social media posts, looking for violations of laws restricting political parties' campaigning on social media that activists say are among the most prohibitive in the world.
The monitors are on the look-out for posts that "spread lies, slander candidates, or use rude language", all violations of the new electoral law, said Mr Sawang Boonmee, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, who gave a Reuters team an exclusive tour of the facility.
When they find an offending post, on, for example, Facebook, they print it out, date-stamp it, and file it in a clear plastic folder, to be handed over to the Election Commission and submitted to Facebook for removal.
"When we order content to be removed, we'll reach out to the platforms, and they are happy to cooperate with us and make these orders efficient," Mr Sawang said.
He said the tough electoral laws governing social media for the March 24 election, the first since a 2014 military coup, are a necessary innovation aimed at preventing manipulation that has plagued other countries' elections in recent years.
"Other countries don't do this. Thailand is ahead of the curve with regulating social media to ensure orderly campaigning and to protect candidates," Mr Sawang said. - REUTERS