Chulalongkorn University Professor
Pirongrong Ramasoota, PhD, is a professor of communication at Chulalongkorn University and a senior research fellow at LIRNEasia
With the Songkran celebrations this year becoming subdued from the surging third wave of Covid-19 infections, deemed by health authorities as 10 times worse than last year's outbreak, efforts at controlling the spread of the virus are underway with contact tracing, health surveillance, compulsory quarantining, and lockdowns.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), was right in pleading for tolerance and empathy amid anti-Myanmar hate speech and discrimination after the recent surge of new infections centred around Samut Sakhon shrimp market.
Given their open and highly-accessible nature, social media platforms — such as Facebook — should be a platform for the promotion of free speech. However, as Thai society gets more polarised and divided along political lines, social media can end up creating a raft of problems that could ultimately lead to the stifling of free speech in an unprecedented manner.
Thais are more politically divided than ever before and the rising animosity between the opposing camps may have reached a critical level, particularly in the online sphere.