Royalist and palace trolls I

30 11 2020

Reuters reported that “Twitter has suspended a Thai pro-royalist account linked to the palace that a Reuters analysis found was connected to thousands of others created in recent weeks spreading posts in favour of King … Vajiralongkorn and the monarchy.”

It is the “pro-monarchy @jitarsa_school account” that was suspended “after Reuters sought comment on Wednesday from Twitter on the recent royalist campaign on the social media platform…”.

Jit Arsa is a programme established by the king, and as posted yesterday, some of it operates from the former military base targeted by protesters.

We might wonder if that account operates from the 11th Infantry Regiment base. Of course, the Royal Thai Army is involved, with “a coordinated information campaign designed to spread favourable information and discredit opponents.”

Reuters says that the account was created in September, and “had more than 48,000 followers before its suspension.”

A Twitter representative stated: “The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation…”.

The Reuters analysis found “tens of thousands of tweets” that were “from accounts amplifying royalist messaging” to counter street protesters and the upsurge in critical commentary of the monarchy.

Twitter account holders? Clipped from Bangkok Post

The @jitarsa_school account’s profile advertised “that it trained people for the Royal Volunteers programme, which is run by the Royal Office.” A related Facebook account “for Jit Arsa for the Royal Volunteers School, which posts pro-monarchy videos and news of the programme, also identifies the Twitter account as its own.”

Reuters states that its analysis found that:

more than 80% of the accounts following @jitarsa_school had also been created since the start of September. A sample of 4,600 of the recently created accounts showed that all they did was promote the royalist hashtags – an indication of the kind of activity that would not be associated with regular Twitter users.

It adds that “the account’s tweets were virtually all from accounts with bot-like characteristics…”.

The hashtags “promoted by the suspended account, usually alongside pictures of the king and other royals, included those that translate as: #StopViolatingTheMonarchy, #ProtectTheMonarchy, #WeLoveTheMotherOfTheLand, #WeLoveTheMonarchy and #MinionsLoveTheMonarchy.”

In a related story at the South China Morning Post discusses broader ultra-royalist efforts to crowd out criticism of the king and monarchy and to hunt down posts they can report as lese majeste.

It cites ultra-royalist Nopadol Prompasit who “has been scouring the internet, following up on messages concerning videos or Facebook posts that allegedly show those who have disrespected the country’s apex institution.”


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3 12 2020
Royalist and palace trolls II | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] become in Royal Thai Army and state “Information Operations” or IO. There was already a whiff of this in recent days. Pavin’s use of documents leaked from inside the palace confirm […]

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