Twitter suspends Thai royalist account: exclusive

Twitter has suspended a Thai account linked to an influence campaign in favor of the country's monarchy, amid months of taboo-breaking protests calling for Thailand's prime minister to resign and reform of its palace.

That's after a Reuters analysis found the account was connected to thousands of others spreading posts in favor of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

And, while not directly linked to the account,

internal army training documents reviewed by Reuters showed evidence of a coordinated information campaign designed to target "opponents" and spread pro-monarchy messages on Twitter, an important platform for criticism of the government even before the protests.

After Reuters sought comment from Twitter on Wednesday, the account, @jitarsa_school, was suspended.

It had gained 48,000 followers since its creation in September.

The account's profile had said it trained people for a Royal Volunteers programme run by the Royal Office.

The "Volunteer Spirit 904" program began in 2016 during the current king's reign to build loyalty to the monarchy.

The palace did not respond to a request for comment.

A Twitter representative said Sunday (November 29), "The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation." The spokesperson said it was not a result of the Reuters request.

The Reuters analysis found that more than 80% of accounts that followed @jitarsa_school had themselves been created since the start of September and a sample of those showed that all they did was promote royalist hashtags.

In early October, Twitter announced it had taken down 926 accounts linked to the Thai army for violating its policies by amplifying pro-government content and targeting political opposition figures.

The army at the time denied that the accounts belonged to army officials.

Video Transcript

- Twitter has suspended a Thai account linked to an influence campaign in favor of the country's monarchy, amid months of taboo-breaking protests calling for Thailand's prime minister to resign and reform of its palace. That's after a Reuters analysis found the account was connected to thousands of others spreading posts in favor of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. And while not directly linked to the account, internal army training documents reviewed by Reuters showed evidence of a coordinated information campaign designed to target opponents and spread pro-monarchy messages on Twitter, an important platform for criticism of the government even before the protests.

After Reuters sought comment from Twitter on Wednesday, the account @jitarsa_school was suspended. It had gained 48,000 followers since its creation in September. The account's profile had said it trained people for a Royal Volunteers program run by the Royal Office. The Volunteer Spirit 904 program began in 2016 during the current king's reign to build loyalty to the monarchy. The palace did not respond to a request for comment.

A Twitter representative said Sunday, quote, "The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation." The spokesperson said it was not a result of the Reuters request.

The Reuters analysis found that more than 80% of accounts that followed @jitarsa_school had themselves been created since the start of September. And a sample of those showed that all they did was promote royalist hashtags. In early, October Twitter announced it had taken down 926 accounts linked to the Thai army for violating its policies by amplifying pro-government content and targeting political opposition figures. The army at the time denied that the accounts belonged to any army officials.