The New York Times in an article titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” not only admitted to the role the US government played in stirring up unrest in the Arab World in 2011 – but also the role US-based social media giants like Facebook and tech giant Google played, stating (emphasis added):
Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.
Google has also admittedly helped the US government in its efforts to violently overthrow the government of Syria. The Independent in a 2016 article titled, “Google planned to help Syrian rebels bring down Assad regime, leaked Hillary Clinton emails claim,” would note Google’s activities regarding Syria:
An interactive tool created by Google was designed to encourage Syrian rebels and help bring down the Assad regime, Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails have reportedly revealed.
By tracking and mapping defections within the Syrian leadership, it was reportedly designed to encourage more people to defect and ‘give confidence’ to the rebel opposition.
Clearly, more is going on at Google than Internet searches – and a US tech giant involved in an illegal war to violently overthrow the government in Syria is a US tech giant that will willingly involve itself in other US interventions around the globe as it, Facebook, and Twitter are clearly doing in Thailand today.
Twitter in particular has been actively involved in boosting the illusion of popularity of Thai anti-government protests – hosting a massive online army of automated and sockpuppet accounts. This “bot army” has helped create numerous anti-government hashtags propelled to the top of Twitter’s “trending” list. These hashtags are then promptly the subject of dishonest news articles across Western and local anti-government media outlets citing them as “evidence” of wide public approval.
Just how unpopular Thailand’s anti-government opposition is in real life can easily be gauged by elections in which opposition parties lost by several million votes, as well as during anti-government rallies in which even paid, bused-in protesters are unable to fill modestly-sized parks in the Thai capital of Bangkok.
In addition to boosting the illusion of the protest’s popularity, Twitter and opposition groups also actively suppress and censor accounts critical of the protests.
Facebook and Google are likewise involved in similar, politically-motivated activities in favor of anti-government protests. All three tech giants have been confirmed to be involved in similar activities around the globe.
Why should Thailand tolerate foreign companies, operating so dishonestly, and doing so specifically to cause harm to Thailand, its sociopolitical and economic stability, and the Thai people who depend on both for their daily lives?
The answer is Thailand shouldn’t.
Nations like China and Russia have long-since fully replaced these US-based tech companies in their own information space.
Chinese alternatives like TikTok are so popular that they have even created a foothold in the West. Not only are Russia and China able to protect their information space from the malicious activities of US tech giants aimed at undermining both nations, all the profits and other benefits of owning cutting edge tech companies are retained within Russian and Chinese borders.
Other nations within Southeast Asia itself have been making similar moves to push out US tech companies. This includes Vietnam
which has been a long-time target of both US military aggression and “soft power” intervention for decades.
Just as Thailand procures weapons from nations like Russia and China to defend its physical territory, it may also consider moving toward similar deals in regards to acquiring the tools and technology required to defend its information space.
The creation of Thai alternatives to popular US-based social media and Internet search companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google could be quickly spurred along by recruiting celebrities to switch over to these Thai platforms while continuing legal pressure to finally, completely restrict the use of US alternatives.
This is not simply because these companies are foreign. It is because they have demonstrated for over a decade now a pattern of abusing their access to information space around the globe to violate both local laws and international laws prohibiting political interference, aggression, and intervention.
These are tech companies who have aided and abetted real world harm. The nations of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and many others targeted by the US in 2011 with the aid of these tech companies have been the scenes of deadly street violence and even total war. Tens of thousands have died with millions more displaced.
While Thailand’s grievances with these US-based tech companies at the moment seem relatively minor, it should be remembered that Facebook, Twitter, and Google are aiding protests that ultimately seek to replicate the same sort of disruptive violent instability that consumed the Middle East and more recently Hong Kong, China.
Legal moves are a good start. Private and public preparations to fully replace these companies within Thailand’s information space will be the only viable long-term solution.