In Thailand, the government has recently blocked Internet users from accessing Justin.tv. Thai web surfers trying to access the live streaming site are currently being redirected to a government website that says the site has been suspended temporarily because of an emergency situation. The “emergency situation” is a recent intensification of anti-government protests on the web and the government is hoping to quell them through censorship.
Although protests in Thailand have been going on for over a year they have intensified in the last few weeks. The protesters, known as the Red Shirt Movement, have been using sites like Justin.tv to spread the word about their opposition efforts and draw support to their cause. Just as Iranian protesters used Twitter to spread the word about what was going on during last year’s election and Burmese protesters used social media during their 2007 uprising in Burma, the Red Shirt Movement have found a great means for communication through social media. However, Thailand’s government is not making it easy for them.
Evan Solomon, VP or Marketing at Justin.tv, told NewTeeVee that this is the first time the live streaming site has been targeted by government censorship efforts of this magnitude. However, there have been indications that countries around the globe are nervous about the opportunities that live streaming affords protesters and activists. Live streaming content is much more difficult to censor than other forms of online media. Unfortunately, many governments, like Thailand, have found that the best means of stopping opposition through these channels is to block the sites.
According to NewTeeVee, a third of Justin.tv’s Thai traffic went to two opposition streams – the first stream, United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship, has received about 250,000 views and the second stream has about 180,000 views. Soloman said, “[A] ton of Thai people have used Justin.tv to get news from and about the protests going on in their country.” Censorship has cut off this channel for hundreds of thousands of viewers.
What do you think about government censorship of social media and video sites around the globe? How would you feel if the next time you tried to log on to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook you were redirected to a government site telling you social media had been suspended?
Image found via Eric Drooker