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Facebook/Twitter Banned In Thailand For Election

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the can't-stop-the-signal dept.

Censorship 177

societyofrobots writes "In the run up to the July 3rd election in Thailand, use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are banned for campaigning and other election related purposes. Offenders face a maximum six months in prison and a 10,000 baht ($330) fine. The ban includes sending short telephone texts and forwarding emails. 'There will be a unit of more than 100 officers to monitor this,' said police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri of the social media ban. 'If we can track the origin of (an online message) right away, we will block the site and make an arrest. But if the sites are registered overseas and we can't check the origin, we'll first block it and ask the IP (Internet Protocol) providers for further investigation,' Prawut said."

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Only banned during last hours before polls (5, Informative)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644856)

They did not ban the use of Twitter, Facebook and social media for election related purposes. This ban is only effect from yesterday 6 PM to today 3 PM until the polls are over. It's a cooling period before the polls, which by the way have already opened. It's so that the candidates and parties or their supporters won't do any cheating or try last minute mass campaigning. Hell, the headline made it sound like some China thing where they banned Facebook and Twitter completely. And I should know, as I live here, have a thai wife and many thai friends.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36644880)

It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645062)

I don't really see how censoring politicians could ever be a bad thing? Most of the time when politicians speak I get an overwhelming urge to punch them in the face until they shut up! (Senator Conroy I'm looking at you!)

Seriously though I think this measure was designed by the relatively less corrupt current government to prevent the significantly corrupt former government from using it's ill gotten billions to buy it's way back into office by sending out propaganda to the poorly educated rural population.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

skegg (666571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645552)

I don't really see how censoring politicians could ever be a bad thing ... Senator Conroy I'm looking at you!

In Soviet Australia, Senator Conroy censors you !

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646186)

In Soviet Australia, Senator Conroy thinks he censors you! FTFY!

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645088)

Here in .au it's exactly the same. In the last week (might be days?) before an election the parties are no longer allowed to advertise or campaign. Censoring a political party I see no issue with, as long as all parties are under the same restrictions.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645146)

My point is what is the need if someone is easily enough swayed by a political ad then there are more problems then stupid politicians

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (4, Informative)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645200)

The law is to prevent candidates from claiming their opponent is a pedofile just as the voting starts, as in this case the opponent would have no time to respond to such allegations even if they can be easily proven false.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645454)

Better still would be to enforce the ban socially.
If everyone agrees that spreading scurrilous rumors prior to a vote is self-outing as the loser, then there is a negative feedback loop, to minimize the behavior.
Governments run open loop; law begets law begets law. Society arrives at results opposite to the original intent. All lose.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645496)

If everyone agrees...

Yeah good luck with that.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645818)

Better still would be to enforce the ban socially.

In an ideal world, yes. However, despite what Slashdotters tend to believe, politicians (at least the successful ones) are smarted than most people. You must have noticed that news like "Candidate A did something very bad" are must more publicized that "Candidate A isn't all that bad, Candidate B made that up".

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645658)

While I do agree with you, sadly this IS the state of things for many people in the US. Ad campaigns, while not being outright smear campaigns, go a long way to subtlly discredit the other person's character. If there is an ad centered around a political issue both parties give their input. However, if you listen closely enough its sometimes the same answer phrased differently.

Case and point: Fill in the blank ads
"$candidate_foo claims to do things "for the people" but did you know that he voted for $bill that led to $hardship in this great state? He has also done x, y and z that didnt help either. Im different. Vote for me! This campaign ad was paid for with the blood of your first born

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (3, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645148)

It would constitute censorship under very limited circumstances. It would constitute censorship if new information was discovered in the final hours of the election, and it was prevented from inadvertently reaching the voter due to the blackout.

But the reality is that new information rarely pops up in those final hours. Because of that, most of the campaigning done would have more to do with manipulating the political process (e.g. presenting misinformation that the other parties cannot respond to). That sort of situation is far more dangerous to democracy than something that a few people could interpret as censorship because they see the world in black-and-white terms.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645246)

this magically assumes that last minute campaigns are somehow different if from twitter/facebook versus doing them in public. Won't people do these last minute campaigning anyway?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645488)

The article was quite clear that they were expecting a blackout of social media website. That means that it extends beyond Facebook and Twitter. It even includes forwarding emails and SMS. In other words, they're talking about technologies that have an immediacy and reach comparable to television and radio. It is quite different from a lot of last minute campaigning that could be done. If there are regulations regarding last minute campaigning using television and radio, it is extremely different all of the last minute campaigning that could be done.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645800)

All last minute campaigning is illegal. Here is the relevant section from Thailand's Electoral law http://www.elections-lebanon.org/elections/docs_6_G_8_1_14.aspx [elections-lebanon.org] [elections-lebanon.org]
"Section 48. No person shall make an election campaign by any means, whether it may be favorable or disfavorable to any candidate or political party, from 6:00 pm of the day before the election day to the end of the election day."

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645796)

They don't campaign in public anyway because it is against the law. It is a cooling off period for all campaigning. Here is the relevant section from Thailand's Electoral law http://www.elections-lebanon.org/elections/docs_6_G_8_1_14.aspx [elections-lebanon.org]
"Section 48. No person shall make an election campaign by any means, whether it may be favorable or disfavorable to any candidate or political party, from 6:00 pm of the day before the election day to the end of the election day."
This ban on campaigning is nothing new. All that is happening is the things one can not do on the street, on TV, in newspapers, etc. can not be done on social media during the time specified. It is a ban on all campaigning not just social media as the article implies. I am for this "cooling off" period. Important decisions should not be made at the last minute based on information that can note be refuted by the target.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645152)

It's at least even-handed. The current party in power is the wealthier one, them being cut off from facebook and twitter is a bigger handicap to them than it is to the opposition, whose supporters are more rural and poor.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (3)

X.25 (255792) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645270)

It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

In many countries election related 'advertising' (or campaigning) is prohibited for 24 hours before election starts.

No, it's not censorship.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

ian_from_brisbane (596121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645724)

It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

In many countries election related 'advertising' (or campaigning) is prohibited for 24 hours before election starts.

No, it's not censorship.

Yes it is. It's '24 hours of censorship before the election starts'. Read your own post.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645868)

Anyone who badmouths the king of thailand goes to jail. I suppose that's not censorship either?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645932)

That law exists because Thai people want it to exist. The king itself is against it and has said so publicly. He also pardons people who violate that law, especially foreigners.

If it would be some law that is forced on people when majority of them object it, you would have a say. But when majority of people want such law to exist, well, it's their country their rules. Most Thai people really do love their king.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (3, Insightful)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646054)

First of all, bullshit. Second of all, freedom of speech is necessary for a democracy whether the people want it or not.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646198)

That law exists because Thai people want it to exist.

No, you only believe that to be true because the law essentially prohibits reporting on the opposite. Saying that it takes a law to prevent badmouthing the king is badmouthing the king and thus illegal, so they legally can't say it in the media.

Most Thai people really do love their king.

[citation needed] — there's no particular reason to believe that people aren't worried about being turned in for not loving their king.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646350)

Oh come on, just go to Thailand and you can see it yourself. I've lived here many years and I can say their love for the king is genuine. For a good reason too, he has done a lot of good for the country during his life.

Don't mix him in with the military junta that actually hold power here. But about this election were talking now, the opposition (red shirts) won. Even their old ex-prime minister admitted it and hoped the power transition goes smoothly. People got what they wanted.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645276)

Lots of nations have an advertising blackout before elections, particularly in some Nordic nations that rate more free then most nations.

This blackout is to allow people to think who they are voting for, of course if you had of complained that this is pointless because the election is drawn up upon socio economic lines with the poor (majority of Thai's) being supported by the corrupt Pleu Thai party and the rich Thais being supported by the corrupt Democrat party that would be justified. Or if you complained about the rampant vote buying (US$5 will buy a vote in Issan) then you'd also be justified. But complaining about a ban on political advertising, that's just ridiculous.

Not that it really matters, shortly we will be welcoming in Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as the new leader of Thailand, then wait a week or two for the inevitable coup and welcome back Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. If we're really lucky, deposed and exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra (brother of Yingluck) will make a special guest appearance. Once again, complaining that the military really rules Thailand would have also been more relevant then what you whined about.

As a lot of Ex-pats would say, "TiT" (This is Thailand.). This is really par for the course.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645506)

It is still censorship and a pretty stupid thing to censor at that.

Lot's of countries have similar laws. The UK for example prohibits people making statements while polls are open about the way the vote is going based on exit polls or speculation that could reasonably be interpreted as such. And of making false statements of fact about a candidate. Doing so could land you in prison for 6 months or a £5000 fine. And it's not intended as censorship but to stop people rigging polls, e.g. by passing false comments which could have an adverse affect on voters. And yes tweeting would land you in the shit too if you engaged in it.

False statements on personal character or conduct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36646008)

Not just false statements in general. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1983/2/section/106 [legislation.gov.uk] .

If the person making the statement believed it was true and had reasonable grounds for doing so then they're fine. Phil Woolas got in trouble because emails showed he didn't believe what he was saying and had no grounds to.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36646278)

You say "tweeting would land you in the shit" - it's actually more like "did" for one MP during the last election:
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/824052-kerry-mccarthy-mp-facing-twitter-postal-vote-police-probe

Its the rules, not censorship (2)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645582)

Political parties are not allows to campaign on the last day preceding the elections in many countries. They have just extended the ban to online mediums.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646362)

Canada has a ban on posting poll results and stats to social media sites during the election as well.

It's not censorship -- it's an attempt to prevent people who vote later in the day from basing their votes on the results so far in other jurisdictions, which would probably sway the vote rather seriously if that information was made public before polls closed.

Personally I think every country should have a similar rule in place, and if people can't abide by it, disable social media sites for the duration of polling.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36644882)

Same in Canada, although in our case it's so that results on the east coast aren't transmitted to the west coast, where they're still voting, until AFTER the election is actually over.

While I don't like it all that much, it's really not that onerous.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1, Troll)

Scutter (18425) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644908)

So, since it's only a little bit of government censorship, it's OK? How much until it's not OK anymore?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36644950)

That's up for us to decide. Just like a little air conditioning is ok, or a little dessert, or a little alcohol.

Believe it or not, humans don't live in a world of absolutes, there are things that are acceptable in moderation.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645138)

Love you, AC. 3

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644996)

So, since it's only a little bit of government censorship, it's OK?

Well, yes. More generally, it's a little bit of censorship that is very limited both in time and in scope, and which has a well-defined goal that the society considers important (fair elections).

Considering that, as far as censorship goes, this is far less significant than, say, criminalizing "incitement to riot", Americans should be familiar with the overall idea.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645104)

Passing laws against shouting fire in a crowded theater is also censorship. I guess by your rhetorical questions you're not okay with that.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645388)

The crowd of bootlicking nanny-statists on here tonight is just unbelievable. :(

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645502)

Which movie were you picturing in your head during that obvious karma bait?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645022)

sure they "banned" it in Canada, but there is no way that they could have enforced it.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645060)

uh what?

how about the people running the election, which i can only assume is the government, just not release the results until the voting is over instead of saying ridiculously stupid things like OKAY GUYS NO FACEBOOK TIL WE'RE REALLY DONE.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645124)

A lot of news organizations do exit polling, which until recent years has often been remarkably accurate. In the last couple of presidential elections, the accuracy has dropped a bit because fewer people are willing to respond to the exit pollers or they are deliberately giving wrong answers.

Media organizations are often requested by the government to hold onto exit polls for individual states until polls close, something they usually do. The major news organizations screwed up in 2000 when they apparently forgot that Florida is in two time zones and started calling the election for Gore before the panhandle polls closed an hour later. The panhandle is (or at least was) a more Republican area and the whole fight over who won the state might have been avoided depending on the actual turnout and how they voted. They've been more careful since then.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36644894)

It's really impressive the amount of Thai astroturfing in Slashdot.

Yes, it's a repressive move, Thailand has a long history of repressive regime and it's hardly a working democracy.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645002)

Thailand has a long history of repressive regime and it's hardly a working democracy.

True.

Yes, it's a repressive move

No, not really. This would only be true if it didn't apply to some of the candidates. As it is, it's not any different than similar laws on the books in most Western countries. The general idea is to ensure that election is fair, and one candidate doesn't attempt to "drown out" the others by his campaigning, if he has access to superior resources in that department.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645248)

if this were true wouldn't all campaigning for the last 24 hours be banned instead of "hurr lets block facebook/twitter"? Sounds pretty specious to me.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645300)

All campaigning for the last 24 hours -is- banned you ignorant twit.

Re (2)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645324)

if this were true wouldn't all campaigning for the last 24 hours be banned instead of "hurr lets block facebook/twitter"? Sounds pretty specious to me.

They do,

This is to try to prevent vote buying before the election, not that it works, 100 to 500 Baht (US$3.50 to US$16 approx) is all it takes for a lot of Thailands poor to be convinced to vote one way or another.

The bigger issue that everyone on /. is overlooking is the real potential for violence during the election.

Re:Re (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645374)

looks like Zironic has corrected my statement, so I suppose all campaigning is banned, but I have heard that almost every election season is violent. What is different now than every Thai election in that sense?

Re:Re (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645490)

looks like Zironic has corrected my statement, so I suppose all campaigning is banned, but I have heard that almost every election season is violent. What is different now than every Thai election in that sense?

If you want to start another, totally different topic, feel free to start it somewhere else

Re:Re (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645666)

looks like Zironic has corrected my statement, so I suppose all campaigning is banned, but I have heard that almost every election season is violent. What is different now than every Thai election in that sense?

A recent history of violence
Bangkok 2010 protests [wikipedia.org]
86 dead, over 2000 injured, large tracts of Bangkok's Silom district burned including Asia's largest shopping centre. There have also been ongoing protests although, not as large as the May 2010 protests but a few have made the news such as forcing the government to cancel an ASEAN summit due to protests.

The conflict between the Red shirts (Pleu Thai and Former Thai Rak Thai party) and the Yellow shirts (supporters of the current regime). The Reds have the numbers, but no real leadership or support. The Yellows are much smaller but have the support of the army. Lines are really drawn on socio economic backgrounds, the majority of Thais are poor and predominantly live in the North and East of the country, they support the Red shirts and Pleu Thai party, the rich and middle class Thais predominately live in the south and Bangkok itself support the Yellow shirts and the current government, the Democrat party.

Whoever wins really doesn't matter, any result will leave a lot of people pissed off, so what everyone is afraid of happening is a repeat of the last 2 years, Protests by the Yellow shirts that shut down the Bangkok international airport forcing a military coup against the remnants of the TRT party. Then the Red shirts that turned Bangkok's business district into turmoil. This is really just the beginning, Thai politics can make US politics look sane, honest and extremely productive in comparison.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644898)

Thank you. That is all.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644904)

... cheating ...

How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

... or try last minute mass campaigning ...

You mean the military junta and royalty-approved stooges or enemies of a renegade billionaire would be put at a further disadvantage yet?

Isn't "campaigning" what politicians do (many of them sadly even stopping at campaigning altogether)?

Aren't you a bit fuzzy on that whole election idea thing?

Hell, the headline made it sound like some China thing where they banned Facebook and Twitter completely.

It is only a matter of degree. In both countries vicious and entrenched power structures live in terror of their subjects communicating with each other in "unapproved" ways. In both they block, censor and monitor the subjects of their tyranny and abuse their peons in a myriad other ways.

And I should know, as I live here, have a thai wife and many thai friends.

The terms you are looking for are "lack of perspective", "being corrupted by local corruption", "ignorant of the precepts of democracy", etc.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645070)

If you are American: How long did you have to wait, to be able to say this about someone else, instead of hearing it being said about you? ;))

(I obviously still agree with you.)

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

mdragan (1166333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645384)

How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

This is a common procedure for democratic elections. It is not specific to Thailand. Campaigning in the media in general is forbidden on the election day, so that participants don't keep a "dirty secret" on one another, releasing it at the last minute without a chance for the other side to replay.
What is specific to Thailand, probably not for long, is that they include Social Network sites in the "Media" category and are trying hard to enforce the rule on a medium where that is hard thing to do.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645460)

This is a common procedure for democratic elections.

It is nowhere near "common" in established democracies. It is also highly dubious. There is no substantive difference if a "dirty secret" is released at 11:59pm on the day prior to the ban or 1 minute before the polls open or one minute before they close. In none of these cases there is a chance to reply since all banned "campaigning" also includes "replies". Of course "replies" of the friends of the ruling junta are usually "special" and thus "exempt".

Thus it is all bullshit instigated by people in shaky fake "democracies" (like Thailand) who are afraid that elections will "heat up" (i.e. the patsies ... err ... "voters" of the crook facing an imminent loss will be prompted to resort to violence at the polls).

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (3, Insightful)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645526)

Yes, it really is common in other countries too. And for a good reason. It just has been in traditional media before, because technology like internet haven't existed for long, social media even less. Other countries will most likely include social media in the, well, media category too.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645544)

Yes, it really is common in other countries too.

List any that are not a running joke when it comes to credibility of their vote counting process.

And for a good reason.

What logical reason?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645760)

List any that are not a running joke when it comes to credibility of their vote counting process.

The UK.

What logical reason?

Because it's better to let the electorate have a free period to make up their mind on all the information they've received through the campaign period, rather than to have them voting based on an emotive last minute smear or dirty trick.

If the last minute smear or dirty trick comes just before the campaigning deadline, then the media still have time to fact check the claim, and report it. Factual reporting is not campaigning, and thus isn't subject to the election period campaigning ban.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646036)

actually you can campaign in the UK on election day - the parties will do whats referred to in polictical jargon as "knocking up" ie trying to make sure your supporters get out and vote and the parties do one last push for photo ops before the candidates go back to the constituancies.

Thats why you get asked for your number by the watchers from the parties at the door - the numbers are fed back to the constituency office and checked against your list of supporters.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646194)

Because it's better to let the electorate have a free period to make up their mind on all the information they've received through the campaign period,

[citation needed]

If something that will change my mind comes out at the last minute, then why should I not have a right to know about it? It's my responsibility to check facts before I vote.

Of course, that assumes an intelligent, educated electorate. And that is very inconvenient to the corrupt.

Er, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36646238)

It's perfectly legal to campaign in the UK on election day, you just can't publish, before the polls are closed:

(a) any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or

(b) any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.

FWIW, I'm not concerned about the free speech implications of this. There's still plenty of campaigning to be done without pointless speculation on the result.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646310)

Factual reporting is not campaigning, and thus isn't subject to the election period campaigning ban.

Says who?! "Reporting", out of mere "civic duty" and "concern for the public", that the other guy is a child-molester three hours before the polls close is merely "reporting facts", no?

Give it up. Any such laws are wholly arbitrary and intended to give more power to whomever happens to be in control of the election process at the moment, which in banana republics is usually the eternally "re-elected" (with 99% of the vote) junta.

They get to decide who "violated" the "sacred law" by speaking "unapproved words" "out of turn". The upstart peasants and their puppet do not get such perks.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645854)

How about Australia
Under Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a 'blackout' from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the end of polling on the Saturday. This three-day blackout effectively provides a "cooling off" period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646326)

Another banana republic who is also fond of Internet censorship and the like. See other Slashdot stories.

Note that these ever more pro-establishment laws (since it is them who do not need to advertise, only small parties and upstarts of all sorts) are appearing only recently (in this case 1992) as the democracies and their principles crumble around the world.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645466)

How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

People (you're familiar with them?) are essentially lazy and reactionary. Get a good whispering campaign going that Sock Puppet X is already heading for a landslide victory, and people either won't bother turning out to vote for them, or will vote for Sock Puppet Y just out of contrariness.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645540)

Only of course the same will happen if the "whispering campaign" happens 2 days before, 5 days before etc. What then? Ban on all media appearances and all political communications 2 months before elections? Where does this end?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645778)

No. 2 days before, people can only say that they think X will win. Two hours before the polls close, they can say that can say that according to ballots already counted, or according to exit polls, X ALREADY HAS won. Completely different thing.

And this is not a theoretical risk. Follow political news and you see this type of electoral fraud happening fairly often.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646318)

No. 2 days before, people can only say that they think X will win. Two hours before the polls close, they can say that can say that according to ballots already counted, or according to exit polls, X ALREADY HAS won. Completely different thing.

No it isn't. In both cases it is mere conjecture. Since "people" do not get to count the votes.

Exit polls are wrong all the time too.

As I keep explaining, the true purpose of the law is to give the incumbents, or whomever controls the process, a stick with which to beat the upstart challengers.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645522)

How does one "cheat" elections using Twitter or Facebook? Could you elaborate?

Easily. Just tweet that your opponent came in to vote reeking of drink or was charged with touching a minor or some other slur. Lots of countries put specific regulation around an election to stop this kind of shit and remedies for when it does happen.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645558)

Easily. Just tweet that your opponent came in to vote reeking of drink or was charged with touching a minor or some other slur.

And this will not work if you use anonymous posters put up at night by masked provocateurs on every street corner or if you broadcast this from a foreign radio station across the border because?

And the effect will be different if you do it at 11:59pm of the day before the ban how exactly?

Lots of countries put specific regulation around an election to stop this kind of shit and remedies for when it does happen.

All of which countries have highly ... err ... colorful history surrounding elections, such as missing ballot boxes and bodies of candidates found in the river.

Face it, the only places that have such laws are banana "republics" and fake "democracies" run by military juntas and God-appointed "kings". Like, say, Thailand.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645610)

And this will not work if you use anonymous posters put up at night by masked provocateurs on every street corner or if you broadcast this from a foreign radio station across the border because? And the effect will be different if you do it at 11:59pm of the day before the ban how exactly?

Well tell you what go read the UK's Representation of the People Act and see how these offences would be dealt with. I expect a judge would reasonably consider the time that people first receive & read the message than the actual time it was posted.

All of which countries have highly ... err ... colorful history surrounding elections, such as missing ballot boxes and bodies of candidates found in the river. Face it, the only places that have such laws are banana "republics" and fake "democracies" run by military juntas and God-appointed "kings". Like, say, Thailand.

Nonsense. Every democracy in existence puts laws in place to protect and ensure that elections are free and fair. And in most countries that includes restrictions on what people may say or do while the vote is in progress or some period before. It's laughable that Thailand should be criticized for this measure given its recent history.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646264)

Well tell you what go read the UK's Representation of the People Act and see how these offences would be dealt with. I expect a judge would reasonably consider the time that people first receive & read the message than the actual time it was posted.

Right. And then the judge, by use of powers arcane and divine, and upon consultation of tarot cards and Ouija board, will determine which of the many factions did that.

Oh, you mean this works only for a two "party" system?

Well then, a clever guy could run a mildly disparaging "smear" campaign against himself and then the all-seeing judge would disqualify the other side! Elections won! What a great law!

Nonsense. Every democracy in existence puts laws in place to protect and ensure that elections are free and fair.

Except of course what you describe has nothing whatsoever to do with "fairness". The laws of this kind are meant to give advantage to the whomever is tightening his grip on power. They are positively Orwellian in that they do precisely the opposite of what they claim to. While everyone is effectively muzzled, the "protectors" get to "be sadly forced by the perfidy of the opposition" to "make a one time exception" to "refute" "outrageous claims" on the, usually national, TV. While the "upstart rabble" does not, of course.

Fairness my ass.

And in most countries that includes restrictions on what people may say or do while the vote is in progress or some period before.

Yes, right. Preferably 10 years before. Or is that too short? If not, why? An arbitrary ban is arbitrary. The "logic" applicable to a 1 day ban is exactly the same that applies to a 1 week ban, 1 month and so on.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645810)

And this will not work if you use anonymous posters put up at night by masked provocateurs on every street corner or if you broadcast this from a foreign radio station across the border because?

That's like saying there's no point in making bank robbery illegal because people can still burgle houses.

And the effect will be different if you do it at 11:59pm of the day before the ban how exactly?

Because the media can still fact check the claim and report during the campaigning ban.

All of which countries have highly ... err ... colorful history surrounding elections, such as missing ballot boxes and bodies of candidates found in the river.

I already gave you the UK when you asked for one counter-example. Actually AFAIK this is common practice in Europe, many countries of which, just like the UK, have far less corruption in elections than the US. (Whilst of course there are other European countries that have more election corruption than the US.)

Face it, the only places that have such laws are banana "republics" and fake "democracies" run by military juntas and God-appointed "kings". Like, say, Thailand.

Face it, your opinions are much bigger than you political knowledge.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645860)

And Australia
Under Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a 'blackout' from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the end of polling on the Saturday. This three-day blackout effectively provides a "cooling off" period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646328)

See my other reply. Laws like these are a sure sign of a decaying democracy.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36644914)

Also, King Bhumibol blows goats.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36644922)

and eat thai food?

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645144)

It could also be a way to make sure the candidates and parties or their supporters don't do any real-time independent reporting or double-checking. After all, it's far easier to mess with the results of an election through the television networks and the government infrastructure if you're part of the government, than to try control what people are going to say to their family or their friends on Twitter or Facebook.

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645252)

I second this and can tell you I posted on Facebook minutes ago. I live in Thailand. Also, many western countries implement the same kind of "ban" during the last phases of elections. French people even go as far as counting how much time candidates spend advertising their positions.

I can see exactly why things like this are done. (2)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645290)

In the Scottish election in 2007, the nationals party were set in the polls for a landslide victory and on the morning the polls opened, virtually every national newspaper in Scotland had an enormous full-front page spread containing much misleading information. This enormously expensive smear campaign had a huge effect and though the nationals still crept into power, it was only by a narrow margin leaving them largely toothless for four years.

Here's an interesting article on cooling off periods for those who like the original poster, seem to think they are undemocratic or some form of censorships like the original poster seems to. http://kelvinteowrites.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/why-the-reason-behind-cooling-off-period-may-throw-past-elections-results-into-disrepute/ [wordpress.com]

Re:Only banned during last hours before polls (1)

it-diary (2328882) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645850)

actually its good because some blackhat people may change minds of people with filthy tactics on social networking sites. 1 day is not big deal for greater good.

outrageous! (2, Informative)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644876)

that is outrageous! this would never happen in a civilized country ... like Canada.

oh wait.

Re:outrageous! (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645024)

Elections Canada was widely criticized for this but at least they had a particular objection which was restricted to posting premature or false election results, rather then "campaigning", "inciting to vote" and the like, which is what the Thai elites are worried about.

In Canada this action was a direct consequence of a law intended to stop poll manipulation by mass media during the election. The idea itself is very controversial (i.e. the idea that people are influenced by such data and change their votes to suit the media) and attempts at killing this law were made repeatedly and will likely succeed in not so remote future since the technological progress has completely outpaced the notions upon which the law was based.

You will also recall that Elections Canada was laughed into promising that they won't prosecute anyone for this.

Re:outrageous! (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645040)

Well it seems between Elections Canada and various elections boards in the US, EC has the right idea. Anyone who's paid attention to the polls and the media spouting their favorite top floppy head on election night, for or against has a direct impact on the outcome.

Re:outrageous! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645046)

Technically Canada is a nosocomial province of Italy, where I am the gainor of all election races, so your objection is MOOT! buttsex

Re:outrageous! (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645752)

The issue isn't Westerners changing their vote it is westerners not voting at all. Why vote if the outcome of the elections are already known? At least allow those of us on the west coast the illusion that we have a say in Ottawa. Publishing results in one province before the polls are closed in another is bad form.

Re:outrageous! (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646300)

So the cure to failure of democracy - which has, let's face it, failed completely in most of the West by being successfully tamed and defanged by the oligarchs, mindless consumerism, breakdown of social trust and the like - is censorship?

"Fucking for virginity", that's what it is.

Google+ (1)

mmajorek (641395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36644972)

use Google+ :)

It's not THAT bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645010)

Australia has a law that bans political advertising on TV and radio during the 3 days leading up to an election. This is so one party doesn't get an advantage by getting the last message in without giving anyone else time to respond. When people are just about to go to the polls one bit of astroturfing or a deliberately misleading comment could change the course of an election.
Thailand is not a free country in many ways - I hope that having a free and fair election will be a step forward.

Re:It's not THAT bad (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645074)

Is it just TV and Radio or is it all forms of media advertising? If not Twitter, Facebook, etc. would be a pretty significant loophole these days. I can't see censoring of personal Twitter accounts ever happening.

Re:It's not THAT bad (1)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645286)

Google turned this up [aph.gov.au] . Note the 'Rules governing political advertising' section. It looks like it's enforced from the broadcaster side:

Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 places three key requirements on the broadcasters of political advertisements. Clauses 3, 3A and 4 of Schedule 2 require broadcasters to:
...
cease political advertisements in the three days before polling day (from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the close of the poll on polling day).

The Act in question [austlii.edu.au] Doesn't seem to include social media -- it has television and radio.
I'm no lawyer, but to be honest if any of Australia's laws were that current I would be shocked. I mean, we have a communications minister who thinks that you can filter bit torrent without killing it [nocleanfeed.com]

Re:It's not THAT bad (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36646126)

Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 places three key requirements on the broadcasters of political advertisements. Clauses 3, 3A and 4 of Schedule 2 require broadcasters to: ... cease political advertisements in the three days before polling day (from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the close of the poll on polling day).

Thanks for confirming that. About what I was expecting. A pretty significant loophole.

The Act in question [austlii.edu.au] Doesn't seem to include social media -- it has television and radio. I'm no lawyer, but to be honest if any of Australia's laws were that current I would be shocked. I mean, we have a communications minister who thinks that you can filter bit torrent without killing it [nocleanfeed.com]

Ah yes the venerable (lol) Senator Conroy. Probably the entire reason for that mans existence is to distract attention onto more trivial and unresolvable matters. Avoiding scrutiny on the real issues is a great way to ensure such loopholes stay open (amongst other things.) But that's probably giving the morons that selected him as communications minister way too much credit!

Just Legalize "Campaign Contributions" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645028)

As long as we have enough untraceable foreign government and corporate money, we're sure to have a great democracy/

We should all thank the US supreme court for legalizing unlimited anonymous campaign bribery.

There are gooks in the wire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645030)

Get Roach up here!

...and ask the providers for further investigation (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645220)

Good luck with that, guys.

I expect your requests to overseas ISPs will cause much hysterical laughter.

Re:...and ask the providers for further investigat (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645314)

Odds are they're not going to ask the overseas ISP, but rather ask their own ISP about who's been writing data to the site.

we do the same thing in Australia (4, Informative)

benengel (448238) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645344)

see here http://www.aec.gov.au/FAQs/election_advertising.htm#blackout [aec.gov.au]

"This three-day blackout effectively provides a "cooling off" period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising"

This entire story and headline is slanted to portray what the thais are doing as chinese style censorship when it is nothing of the sort. Many western countries including australia do the exact same thing

Re:we do the same thing in Australia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36645542)

No, most countries do not BLOCK ENTIRE MOTHERFUCKING WEBSITES because someone decided to violate election laws with a tweet or two.

So shut the fuck up you astroturfing thai piece of shit.

not censorship at all (1)

nazg00l (699217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36645858)

As many have written already, this has very little to do with censorship and much to do with providing elections free from sociological manipulations. Mandating political silence just before and during the actual voting prevents primitive sociological tricks like "party X is doing really poor in the polls and is unlikely to clear the parliament-admission threshold, don't waste your vote on them, vote for similar party Y instead!" where people might get semi-consciously swayed at the last minute.

And, contrary to what many people write, such a ban is actually fairly easy to enforce. Simply monitor such cases, and post-factum declare parts of the overall voting process (in certain regions, circuits, whatever you have) invalid. This forces repeating parts of the election and, provided the society is at least somewhat legalistic, creates strong bias against the offending candidates or parties. (There may be significant financial penalties involved as well). In my country (Poland) this approach works surprisingly well, the ban is universally obeyed and the very rare transgressions are universally looked down at.

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