Army trolls

9 10 2020

Thai Enquirer reports that Twitter has revealed that the Royal Thai Army has at least 926 accounts used in “information operations” against anti-government figures and opposition politicians.

Since the 2006 military coup and more intensively since the 2014 coup, huge budgets have gone to “cyber security,” including the use of cyber vigilantes. State agents have long targeted “opponents,” disrupted and trolled.

Twitter’s report on state-backed “Information Operations” is about “attempts to manipulate Twitter to influence elections and other civic conversations by foreign or domestic state-backed entities.”

The most recent Twitter report disclosed “five distinct networks of accounts … of state-linked information operations.” The accounts were “attributed to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Thailand and Russia.” Twitter states that it has “permanently suspended all 1,594 accounts associated with the five networks, for various violations of our platform manipulation policies.”

On Thailand it states:

Our investigation uncovered a network of accounts partaking in information operations that we can reliably link to the Royal Thai Army (RTA). These accounts were engaging in amplifying pro-RTA and pro-government content, as well as engaging in behavior targeting prominent political opposition figures.

We are disclosing 926 accounts today and continue to enforce against small-scale activity associated with this network, as we identify it.

At the Twitter pages the data on Thailand can be downloaded.

Meanwhile, a report on the operations associated with the 926 accounts has been released by the Stanford Internet Observatory. This report provides some “relief” as it found the Army was not very good at this information operation:

Of the 926 accounts, only 455 actively tweeted, producing a total of 21,385 tweets in the takedown. The network was used primarily to promote pro-government and pro-military positions and accounts on Twitter and to attack political opposition, particularly the Future Forward Party and Move Forward Party (FFP and MFP, respectively). This was a coordinated but low-impact operation: most accounts had no followers and the majority of tweets received no engagement (calculated as the sum of likes, replies, retweets, and quote retweets). This might be due in part to the operation’s limited duration: most of the accounts were created in January 2020 and the network largely stopped tweeting by March 2, 2020. Activity was heavily concentrated in February 2020 with notable spikes around the Korat shooting, a mass shooting in which a soldier killed 30 people, and the dissolution of the FFP.


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2 responses

12 10 2020
Army lies | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] few days ago, we posted on Twitter’s revelations that the Royal Thai Army has at least 926 accounts used in […]

29 11 2020
Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The Post has more details that show that the military is active in seeking to disrupt its opposition while seeking to circumvent Twitter bans. […]

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