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Thai Coup Selfies: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 28 2014

Screenshot of a Thai Coup Selfie

A selfie may not be worth a thousand words, but it seems as if they are doing more in Thailand than might be immediately apparent. Based in part on this CNN article, I wrote in a techPresident post last week that the selfies were evidence that Thais were “taking the news [of martial law] in stride.” It seems I did not give the selfies or indeed the selfie takers enough credit.

Shortly after the post was published, the situation escalated to a full-on coup d'état by the Thai military. A recent Global Voices post points out the important role selfies are playing in the midst of military intervention.

Mong Palatino writes:

But the coup selfies should not be interpreted as a sign that Thais are supportive of the military intervention. They may not be afraid of soldiers but it doesn’t mean that they are not opposed to the Junta. The selfies were taken at a time when the army was threatening to censor social media.

Perhaps afraid of being tagged as a dissenter, some Thais opted to snap selfies with the soldiers while being silent about their sentiments about the coup. But the selfies succeeded in informing the whole Thailand and the rest of the world that the army has indeed taken over and replaced the civilian government.

Through the selfies, we learned that soldiers have been deployed near train stations, malls, major intersections and government offices. While TV stations were shut down (for two days they broadcast only patriotic songs from the World War II era), social media and in particular coup selfies provided the latest information about the coup situation in Thailand.

Also, Palatino says, the selfies are increasingly explicit in their condemnation of the coup.

Lots of sample tweets in the full Global Voices post here.

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