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January 14, 2014

Social media use ‘to rise during Bangkok shutdown’

People could turn to Twitter for news as protesters likely to block newspaper building access.

By Joe Curtis

Social media is set to become vital for communication as protesters shut down Bangkok for the second day, it is claimed.

Rebels are at loggerheads with the government over the state of Thailand’s democracy, claiming Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is a puppet for her brother and exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a military coup eight years ago.

With protesters accusing native broadcasters and publications of biased coverage, analyst firm Frost & Sullivan predicts traditional news sources will be surrounded by rebels just as government buildings have been, leaving people reliant on social media for information.

Senior analyst Teera Kanokkanjanarat said: "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 mega platforms.

"We expect the usage to increase significantly as people from all over the country, especially in metro Bangkok area, tune in to social media and internet for update on the protest."

Twitter proved a crucial tool for organising protests during the Arab Spring, and Frost & Sullivan said their research suggested that 18 million of 25 million Thai internet users are on Facebook, meaning the social network could also play a role this time.

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