Social Media in Thailand

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In an earlier blog post, I talked about Thailand’s ICT usage and found that Thailand has a higher usage than many developing countries.  Unsurprisingly, Thailand is also very active in social media.

Thailand has a population of approximately 69 million people.  About 30% are online, according to Internet World Stats.

 

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comScore reported that social networking is used by 96% of internet users and accounts for 30% of all time spent online in Thailand, with the third top website visited being Facebook.  As of February 2013, there are over 18 million Thai facebook users, which ranks Thailand 13 in the world.  Thailand has added over 1,000,000 new Facebook users in just the last six months.  Twitter and Instagram are not as popular, with only 1.5 million Twitter accounts and 800,000 pictures on Instagram with the hashtag “#Thailand.”  Thailand’s Facebook usage is extremely high – 74% compared to 47% in Italy, according to GlobalWebIndex.

Many attribute the large growth and use of Facebook in Thailand to gaming – a huge industry in Thailand.  Many young Thai’s also enjoy Facebook for connecting with friends and sharing pictures.

 

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Marcello Mari, Social Engagement Lead at GlobalWebIndex said, “Thailand is definitely one of the most interesting markets for what concerns the Social Media landscape. At GlobalWebIndex we track 31 countries in the World and we recently rolled out a simple and comparable measure which enables the exploration of how engaged different markets are. Asia (with the exception of Japan) dominates, with China leading the way regardless of the demographics compared. Thailand ranks 9th in this peculiar list behind Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, the most engaged country in the world according to the SEB [Social Engagement Benchmark] score.”

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Social media is being used by the Thailand Department of Tourism to promote special events, festivals, and to attract tourists.  Additionally, social media has played a role in natural disasters in Thailand, such as the floods in 2011.  Social media sites helped Thai’s relay important information to their networks, which both helped save lives and keep the public informed, but attracted many more users, says reporter Michelle Fitzpatrick.  Social media also plays an important political role in Thailand, helping connect activists and spread awareness.  This is especially critical and sometimes dangerous under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws, for which the punishment is 15 years in prison.  Social media is starting to play a larger role in elections, however due to political tensions, it is often monitored and censored during elections.

Overall, Thailand’s social media use is impressive, especially for a developing country.  The usage is growing and shows a lot of promise and potential.

 

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8 responses to “Social Media in Thailand

  • smolina1

    Very interesting, I would also like to learn about how the private sector uses social media in Thailand. Does the high usage of social media in Thailand represent business opportunities for entrepreneurs?

    • sydneysapper

      There have been scholars who have looked at the business opportunities from social media and say that there are tons of potential!! Many businesses already use it to promote products, promotions, events, etc.

  • ddipietro216

    I agree, very interesting and also slightly surprising. I wonder how much of the online information is censored on a regular basis, since you mentioned that it may be highly sensored around election time. I am curious because social media in my country for this class, China, is very censored or in some cases simply banned.

  • ddipietro216

    Also, on the web it says that the “Lèse majesté” laws that you refer to… “is the crime of violating majesty, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.” How exactly does this relate to social media in Thailand? or, rather, how does social media interact with these lèse majesté laws?

    • sydneysapper

      The lese-majeste laws in Thailand prohibit anyone from saying or doing anything negative against the monarchy. This applies to social media in that if you were to post, tweet, take a picture, etc of anything that could violate this laws, you could be prosecuted. Hope this answers your question!

  • ohaberer

    What!? I find that surprising that Thailand has such laws. I had a foolish notion that Thailand was a relatively free country, free from government censorship.

    My brother is teaching in Thailand, and I can tell many are Facebook-crazy. They comment on a lot of my pictures simply because I am his brother, and they feel like by knowing him, they automatically are part of the family and know all of us.

    • sydneysapper

      Yes, there are a lot of contradictions in Thailand like that! In fact, Thailand means “land of the free” but with the laws and government in place it is very much not so!

      And yes, I know what you mean about the Facebook craze! A lot of times one of my Thai friends would friend some of my friends at home whom they didn’t know, and then random Thais would friend me simply because one of their friends was friends with me. They post lots of pictures on Facebook and spend a ton of time on it!

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