BBC to Launch 'Pop-Up' News Service on Facebook to Circumvent Thailand's Military Censorship

4:03 AM PST 07/10/2014 by Patrick Brzeski
AP
A Thai military official speaks to a crowd outside a Bangkok cinema.

The organization has decided to tap Thais' huge appetite for social media to ensure service and journalistic free speech in the country.

The BBC will soon turn to Facebook as a more reliable means of reaching its audience in Thailand.

In the aftermath of the country's military coup in May, the BBC's news service was temporarily taken off the air along with a host of other international broadcasters, including CNN and the Disney Channel.

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In response, the BBC is launching a "pop up" news outlet on the social network that will offer regional and international news in both English and Thai. The organization says the project will be given a three-month test run.

Liliane Landor, controller of language services for the BBC World Service, said in a statement: "One of the fundamental principles of the World Service is to bring impartial and accurate news to countries when they lack it. We think the time is right to trial a new Thai and English digital stream to bring trusted news and information to people inside Thailand.

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"Thailand is one of the most digitally advanced societies in Southeast Asia, and this means we can set up this operation quickly and cost-effectively."

Thailand has high rates of smartphone and social media penetration. Of the country's 67 million population, there are an estimated 28 million Facebook users, most of which are concentrated in the capital, Bangkok.

The move was praised by the U.K.'s minister for Southeast Asia, Hugo Swire. "Pleased to see @bbcworldservice helping support freedoms of expression and thought in #Thailand," the official tweeted.  

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