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Twitter suspends account linked to pro-monarchy info-ops in Thailand – report

Twitter suspended a Thai pro-monarchy account with links to the country's royalty, according to a report by Reuters on Monday, November 30.

Reuters found the account was linked to thousands of others that were only recently created, spreading pro-monarchy and pro-King Maha Vajiralongkorn posts.

The Thailand protests started in July, which first targeted the government before calling to lessen the powers of the king – a movement that had been shocking because the country had historically been supportive of the monarchy.

The tens of thousands of messages spreading through the pro-royalist Twitter network sought to push back against the said protests.

The main pro-royalist account in question @jitarsa_school was suspended by Twitter after Reuters asked the the social media platform for comment last week. The account was created in September 2020, and had 48,000 followers before being suspended, with "more than 80% of the accounts" also being created in the same month.

The alleged manufactured accounts mainly promoted pro-royalist hashtags, often an indication that an account is not a representation of a real individual.

Some of these hashtags are #StopViolatingTheMonarchy, #ProtectTheMonarchy, #WeLoveTheMotherOfTheLand, #WeLoveTheMonarchy and #MinionsLoveTheMonarchy.

Twitter told Reuters it took down the account for "violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation," and wasn't the result of Reuters asking Twitter for a comment.

Reuters also reported seeing "internal army training documents" that showed evidence of the coordinated information operations, although not directly linked to @jitarsa_school.

The 28-page army document, acknowledged by the Thai army, reportedly shows an organized information operation spread pro-monarchy messages on Twitter and target opponents, along with measures to look like authentic accounts.

Twitter in October also took down about 900 pro-government accounts linked to the Thai army for violations on rules on platform manipulation. But the army denied the connections.

Twitter's moves in Thailand are similar to a Facebook takedown in the Philippines in October that found links to AFP- and PNP-connected accounts that promoted anti-communist messaging and support for the anti-terror bill. – Rappler.com