Your Blog Is Banned By Me, Your Second Big Brother

作者:Songphan Choemprayong   来源:iTeau's Dirt

Besides the shut down of Fah Diew Kun website (see FACT for more information), many Thai bloggers are still struggling with how they are going to survive in Thai blogophere.

Putushon (คุณปุถุชน) of the Republic of Poetry recently reported the deletion of his blog on OK Nation (in Thai). His account has been diminished on December 20. On January 8, the blog has been entirely disappeared with no warning. Prior to this incident, a couple of censoring acts were reported. For instance, Wayward's blog has been banned because it is apparent that there was a strong language writing (Thanks Putushon for the backup copy). Independent Press, an anti-junta government blog, has also been deleted by OK Nation (Thanks Google Cache for at least the trail of this blog). Apparently these censoring actions have been conducted without prior notification.

OK Nation is a blog community platform run by the Nation Group, one of the major news organizations in Thailand. As of this writing, there are nearly 25,000 registered accounts with more than 150,000 posts. Interestingly enough, on OK Nation's About Us page, it says (my own translation):

"OK Nation was established in order to building a place for intellectual freedom. Everyone has his own right to write and distribute via the Internet, the most effective communication channel.

The Nation Group as a media who are honest, trustworthy, updated, and creative, opens blogs for everyone to share stories in your daily life, experiences, knowledge and opinion to others freely."

However, on the registration page, there are four criteria to apply the membership including:

  1. Filling information (in the registration form) completely and honestly.
  2. Any writings or opinions must not insult or affect the institution of nation, religion, and king or affect the stability of the nation.
  3. Do not use rude, insulting, instigating language giving faults to other or breaking up the society. Also do not include pornographic and obscene image, video clip and words.
  4. The content and opinions in the blog is not related to the web managing teach. They are the legal responsibility of member personally.

With an interesting ending saying:

"OK Nation reserves right to close any blog and delete any content or opinion that are against the above statement without prior notification to the blog or opinion owners."

The censorship at OK Nation seems to be a very interesting case because it is the traditional media who try tries to handle citizen journalism. In these cases at OK Nation, I (expect to) see no response from the provider as they would refer to the agreement. Not surprisingly, those criteria in the agreement are quite common in any online community in Thailand. The exercises of censorship happen occasionally (to regularly) in Thai blogophere.

However, the communities run by traditional media might be a bit trickier when the conflict of interest arrives, in particular political ones. Independent blog providers seem to have less political agenda than traditional media. To date (to my knowledge), there are three major blog communities in Thailand that run by media agencies: OK Nation, MBlog run by Manager Group, and Prachatai's blogazine.

Obviously Manager have involved in many political activities in the last couple of years. Its political news are totally biased against ousted Prime Minister and his alliance. Prachatai also has political driven agenda. Its leaders also have political roles.

I suspected that the blogger at these communities have been aware of the political drive since they began are choosing these providers. For instance, any pro-Thaksin would rarely choose Manager's MBlog. Interestingly enough, even though I could not find term of service or any agreement at registration of MBlog and blogazine, I have never heard about censorship from these two sources (Correct me if I am wrong about this!). If my assumption is held, the selection of provider plays significant role of how censorship would work here in Thailand.

Nation Group tries to represent itself as a neutral source to most people, although at some point of Thaksin period they were accused of being biased. They have also been experienced the survival of freedom of expression crisis. Thus, the image of Nation Group in terms of freedom of expression is generally highly regarded. Therefore, a number of bloggers would have joined OK Nation as its image of neutrality and independently independence.

However, without the clarification on any action of censorship, anything (even besides those mentioned in the agreement) could be claimed as a reason. Hence, if you are looking for blog provider and you know that you, at some point or at a moment of your blogging life, will enter the battle field of conflict, hosting with traditional media may not be the right choice for you.

Disclosure: I do not own or work for any blog service providers nor any news agencies. Although I host my blog on WordPress, I do not get any other benefits from WordPress besides a free blogging account.