BANGKOK: Social media usually plays a vital role in times of crisis, and the latest example was the bomb blast in Bangkok’s busy Ratchaprasong junction on Monday night.
Social media outlets were used by some to provide moral support and express condolences, while others used them to condemn those responsible for the tragedy, to analyse the incident and point fingers at one another.
Many also shared clips from CCTV and their mobile phonesof images of the suspected bomber seen at the Erawan Shrine and a video clip of another small bomb at Sathorn Pier on Tuesday.
However, those sharing graphic images of the victims were criticised, which gave rise to a campaign for the hashtag #sharecarefully.
Thai Journalists Association president Wanchai Wongmeechai also issued a statement calling on the media to not broadcast graphic images and to verify all information properly before reporting.
@Pokrath: “Don’t share images of the body, organs or the injured, please. Imagine if [the victims] were your relatives, you wouldn’t want others to see them in a bad condition.”
Social-media users were also warned to consider their own safety.
@l2ip: “Social-media users, don’t take risks by going to the scene. If there’s an explosion, you will not be able to share the pictures for any ‘likes’.”
As is normal in a crisis, confusion spreads quickly, especially in initial aftermath. Rumours were rife on LINE and a lot of the information shared was conflicting. Initially, mainstream media also reported that an LPG tank had exploded.
Then there was the rumour that schools, banks and government offices in Bangkok would be closed – a piece of information that the authorities later said was false.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also called on the media and social-media users to stop sharing unconfirmed information or risk exacerbating confusion.
On a positive side though, social media outlets were very effective in recruiting help and resources such as Chinese translators at hospitals and blood donations.
People also began sharing Deutsche Presse-Agentur’s report complimenting Thais for their action – people immediately helping victims, motorcycle taxis giving free rides to pedestrians so they could be moved out of the area, hotel staff ensuring guests returned safely and thousands showing up to give blood.
The first hashtags used were #PrayForThailand and #PrayForBangkok.
According to the Computerlogy social-media monitoring tool, the #PrayForThailand hashtag had been mentioned 57,350 times on Facebook, 152,323 times on Twitter and 91,621 times on Instagram as of 3pm Tuesday.
Later came the #nodisturbingphoto, #condolencestovictims and #strongertogether hashtags.
Ananya Moonpen shared Petch Samudavanija’s post: “We should follow the UK formula when they faced the bombing in 2005. Although people felt shocked, they fought back by living their lives normally. At the same time, government agencies investigated quickly, effectively and decisively.”
Many posted or changed their profile pictures to Thai national flag.
Ngor Gonggate wrote on Facebook: “Where you go today, what you do today, please share on the timeline. #SupportLiving|Normally.” – The Nation/Asia News Network