Thailand Bans Facebook Campaigns On Eve Of Elections

By Ruth Manuel-Logan Comment

As Thailand’s elections for Prime Minister come to a close, the candidates and those who are rallying around them, could face imprisonment if caught campaigning on Facebook the day before the vote takes place on Saturday.

According to Thai law, if the rigid campaigning law is broken, the wrongdoers could face a six month prison stint, in addition to a penalty of $326.

Democratic Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (pictured) and the main opposition party leader Yingluck Shinawatra, both plan on holding their last campaign rallies offline on Friday night, the day before the election.

An estimated 100 law enforcement personnel have been strategically placed to oversee 1,000 websites to ensure that the candidates and supporters adhere to the campaigning law.

When talking social media with regards to the Thai elections, Facebook is one of the main platforms with now over 10 million users in Thailand. In the country, Facebook has changed how parties can interact with their followers, particularly those that target urban-based internet users. The social networking site has provided an ideal platform for communicating with the country at large.

A university poll release earlier this month showed Pheu Thai with 52 percent of the vote and the Democrats with 34 percent. Of the 500 parliamentary seats up for grabs, 375 are chosen in districts and 125 through proportional representation. Around 70 percent of Thailand’s population, meaning roughly 67 million people, are eligible to vote.

Polling laws differ across the globe. In the U.S. for instance, on primary, referendum, or election day, solicitation pro, or against a candidate is banned and this includes no advertising materials within 75 feet of a polling place. So what does Thailand’s law say about the power of Facebook during elections?