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Thai junta experiments with turning off Facebook (and remedies for that)


Still plugging away covering a country on the other side of the world. Why? Because the Generals always want to turn off the Internet. They tried it in Egypt, along with cellphones (the reistance moved to flyers); they tried cutting off twitter in Turkey (it failed); and now they've tried it Thailand. Perhaps they may try it here! Of course, in Egypt the United States demanded that Egypt turn the Internet back on, but with what we know, I would bet that the NSA was ticked that it suddenly didn't have an surveillance data. That would probably be the NSA's view on shutting down the Internet in this country, so again, the methods the Thai generals use -- they are very adept at nudging their subjects with a light touch -- will be of interest to the powers that be; managing the Internet is so much more effective than simply turning it off! (And provides plenty of jobs for the boys, too, which the Thai Army knows very well.

So here's a twitter history of the junta's Facebook shutdown; think of the history as providing signs and portents you might want to watch the skies for. (Note that the Thais are heavy duty social media users; IIRC, the Bangkok airport was knocked from its perch at the top of Most Instagrammed Location Worldwide by a humongous Bangkok shopping mall. Social media, for good or ill, meshes well with the sociability and conviviality and sense of fun that are such distinctive features of Thai culture, so it's not at all surprising that Thais got ticked with the junta turned it off. No selfies! And we can back that up with data!

Anyhow, remember hearing the word "junta" a lot in the news when I was a kid; how thoughtful of the Thai Generals to make junta thing once more. Even if some might feel that word a bit heavy-handed. Even if the word is not the heavy handed thing:

First, that was fast! So , why?

Of course, immediate signage; [#8] ("Banners, posters, and displayed communications")

Above: Note black color-coding, anti-coup signifier, [#18] ("Displays of flags and symbolic colors")

Theories vary along lines typical of this country, too: Stupid, or evil?

Above: That goes in the "evil" bucket.

Above: This goes in the "evil" bucket. The blockage was no accident!

And from Bangkok Pundit:

UDPATE 18:05 : In Thai there is a proverb เชือดไก่ให้ลิงดู or in English “Cutting the throat of the chicken in front of the monkey” as it comes at a time when the ICT Ministry is about to meet with Line, YouTube, and Facebook to get them to stop content contrary to orders of the junta. 

Above: In English we say, "Send them a message."

Above: The junta -- and I know this will surprise you -- denies it. That's stupid.

Above: The junta pissed on its own base, too. That's stupid. Wouldn't they already know?

Above: Denials all round. That's stupid too.

So, half-an-hour's outage, move along people, move along, there's no story here.

Above: That's the story to watch, I think. The junta may -- and by "may" I mean "does" -- do plenty of stupid things, but managing a coup is something they're smart about. (It's governing they're dumb about.) So, my guess is that the Army learned they can't shut down social media, except as an emergency measure if the tanks really roll, but they will need to monitor it, case by case, page by page. They won't be able to set up a unit like that with poor kids from Isarn, so they'll have to use universitry-trained people who are both technical and know English. What a great use of society's resources! It's called eating your seed corn. I sure hope that, in ten or twenty years, the bright young people who took up a career in censorship wouldn't otherwise have been the engineers who saved Bangkok from drowning when the ocean rise.

* * *

Finally, remedies:

Above: For business.

Above: Personal.

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