World social media polls become a Thai political battle

 
Thais always seem to take things seriously when it comes to social media.  Take for example the Social Baker statistics in early 2013 showing Bangkok as the largest capital of Facebook users.  Almost 13 million users identified themselves as living in Bangkok and/or accessing Facebook from Bangkok. Last year, Siam Paragon beat Times Square at the top of the list of the places where people posted their photos on Instagram, while Bangkok ranked number two as the capital of Instagrammers, behind New York. 
 
 Screen capture of the Toptens' World Worst Leaders poll shows Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra ranked one and two respectively. 
 
At Toptens.com, a website that creates polls on various topics and allow users to add poll choices, comments, and votes on comments, Thais made a political battle out of the poll on “The Worst World Leaders’.
 
The Worst World Leaders poll was created almost six years ago. Around last week, Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, deposed Adolf Hitler to number three on the list, with Thaksin ranked at number one and Yingluck at two. 
 
One comment on Thaksin which was given more than 4700 votes was “He is the great corruptionist and using his richness to get permanent power. Also he tries hard to rule all of power in democracy system, parliament, government and court by changing the current constitution for him and his relatives.” 
 
A comment on Yingluck, “Most stupid Thai, the first and only one leader who visit more than 50 country around the world within 2 years,” received about 2700 votes. 
 
Another comment on Yingluck, getting almost 2400 votes, reads “She is stupid of both Thai & English languages.” 
 
The Top 100 in the World Worst leader poll is overwhelmed with Thai names. Most of them are controversial figures from the anti-establishment and the pro-establishment sides, such as the anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban (19), former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (10), former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat (9) and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda (34).
 
Some Thai names are obviously not considered “leaders” at the national level, such as Thaksin’s son Panthongtae Shinawatra (28). Department of Special Investigation Director Tarit Pengdith (25), anti-establishment red-shirt co-leader Jatuporn Prompan (18), red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikua (21), former Foreign Minister during the Democrat government Kasit Piromya (30), Deputy PM Plodprasop Suraswadi (58), and Democrat Party Deputy Leader Korn Chatikavanij (73) also appear on the list. 
 
Well-known leaders include George W. Bush (ranked 12) and Kim Jong-Un (8).
 
Notably, the person who is protected under Article 112, or lèse majesté law, was also nominated. He was ranked in the thirties last week. As of Monday, he no longer appears on the list.   
 
2010 Manipulation of the  #weloveking twitter trend
 
On the King’s birthday back in December 2010, Thai twitter users, led by Nation Multimedia Group Chief Suthichai Yoon and Jetrin Wattanasin, a former popular Thai singer, tried to manipulate the twitter world’s trend feature to place the hashtag #weloveking and #hismajesty as the world’s trending topic on the night of December 5 in order to show to the world their love for the King. 
 
The twitter trends feature, according to twitter, is an algorithm identifying topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help users discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter.
 
Because the first hashtag, #weloveking, had been tweeted by Twitter users as early as midnight on December 4, it gained popularity throughout the day, but it could not make its way to be the world’s trend. Thai twitters created #hismajesty in place of #weloveking, and its popularity reached a sudden world’s trend peak at around 10 pm Bangkok time. 
 
(Read more about the 2010 manipulation here.)
 
2009 Tweeter Wall 
 
 
Screen capture of the Tweeter Wall shows Thaksin Shinawatra at number two, with Chaturon Chaisang ranked number three and red-shirt twitter users from numbers four to seven. Photo courtesy of ipattt.com 
 
 
In 2009, a department store in the United States created a campaign called Tweeter Wall. It opened a poll for twitter users around the world to nominate and vote their favourite twitter users on the Ms Tweeter and Mr Tweeter Walls. At the end of the poll, Thaksin Shinawatra was ranked number two on Mr Tweeter, behind Peter Facinelli, an American actor starring in Twilight. Chaturon Chaisang was ranked number three, and numbers four to seven were all red-shirt twitter users.
 
For the Ms Tweeter wall of fame, Thaksin’s daughters, Pinthongta and Paethongtan Shinawatra, were voted five and six.