NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand: Fb celeb physician Parkphum Dejhutsadin mentioned his telephone instantly began pinging on Feb 8 – scores of his two million followers in Thailand have been determined they usually wanted his assist.
With nowhere to show as they cowered in a shopping center from a rogue soldier who had already killed greater than two dozen individuals, they regarded to Fb and different social media to ship their pleas and to attempt to discover escape.
Parkphum may assist – and mentioned for the subsequent 16 hours that is all he did: dwelling as much as his panda-eyed Fb persona as sleepless physician “Mor Lab Panda”.
“They advised me the place they have been and despatched me photos of their hiding locations. Authorities did not know the place anyone was hiding. However I knew every thing,” mentioned Parkphum. “I did not sleep a wink. I did not need them to die.”
Whereas social media have been accused of exacerbating and even encouraging mass shootings resembling final 12 months’s mosque bloodbath in Christchurch, New Zealand, in Thailand they have been additionally essential to pulling off a protected and dramatic rescue from the shopping center in Nakhon Ratchasima metropolis.
Earlier than 32-year-old killer Jakrapanth Thomma was cornered in a basement and shot useless, Thai commandos managed to coordinate raids into the mall to spring lots of of individuals to security.
“We have been speaking on Fb with the individuals inside to trade data,” Pongpipat Siripornwiwat, deputy commander of Nakhon Ratchasima police, advised Reuters. “With out it, our work would’ve been very troublesome and we would not have had any thought what number of have been trapped and what was happening inside.”
The tragedy underscored the extent to which Fb is the communication platform for day by day life within the nation of 69 million which has about 56 million energetic customers a month and the place the typical individual spends three hours a day on social media. Most social media exercise is on cell phones.
And it was on Fb that the killer, apparently angered by a property deal gone bitter, first signalled his intentions.
“Do they suppose they’ll spend the cash in hell?” his publish ended, roughly three hours earlier than he opened hearth at a home, then moved to a military camp, a temple after which the shopping center – leaving a path of homicide behind him.
At one level he posted a selfie in entrance of a hearth.
His final message earlier than his Fb account was shut down – “Ought to I quit?” – got here almost 4 hours after the primary shot.
However after dealing with criticism for failing to take down the Christchurch shooter’s livestream rapidly and when a Thai father murdered his youngster on Fb Dwell in 2017, the world’s greatest social media firm moved sooner as soon as it heard what was occurring.
It shut his Fb and Instagram accounts after which labored to take away something that he had posted and was being shared by others – together with by spoof accounts apparently arrange in his identify by different individuals after his personal was blocked.
“There isn’t any place on Fb for individuals who commit this type of atrocity, nor will we permit individuals to reward or help this assault,” a Fb consultant mentioned in an announcement, including that it labored carefully with Thai authorities to take down content material that violated its insurance policies.
“We additionally responded to emergency requests from the Royal Thai Police to share data associated to the shooter to forestall additional hurt,” it mentioned, with out giving additional particulars.
Twitter, the place graphic movies of the incident have been circulated, mentioned it additionally took motion – an organization consultant mentioned it monitored its platform to take away video content material of the assault and to protect graphic content material from view.
However police mentioned the shooter, who killed no less than 29 individuals and wounded 57 earlier than he was stopped, had not solely used social media to publicise what he was doing but additionally to trace police actions by on-line information websites.
“Social media was a double-edged sword. It helped police rescue individuals, but it surely additionally helped him sustain with our actions,” mentioned Pongpipat.
Parkphum, a medical technologist working for Thailand’s Nationwide Blood Heart, is so well-known he even has his personal set of stickers for social media messaging apps together with his trademark “panda eyes” and white coat.
“Each message from the individuals about the place they have been hiding and what number of have been with all of them turned out to be true when police received there. Folks have been hiding in (style retailer) H&M, Eveandboy (a cosmetics store), a gymnasium. I now know your entire ground plan of the mall,” he mentioned.
Different Fb celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers additionally stepped in to coordinate and reassure.
“I advised them to remain as quiet as attainable and mute their telephones, to ship their areas and telephone numbers,” mentioned Witawat Siriprachai, 36, identified by Thais because the “Sergeant” of the social commentary web page “Drama-addict”.
“I warned them to not livestream from their areas, as a result of the shooter was additionally utilizing Fb throughout the rampage,” mentioned Witawat, who isn’t a sergeant in actual life.
On the shopping center, 42-year-old Pat mentioned she had simply completed a meal when she heard the primary photographs and ran to cover in a cell phone retailer. She mentioned she was nonetheless traumatised and didn’t need to give her full identify.
For 5 hours she mentioned she scrolled by her Fb newsfeeds to maintain up with what was occurring. Afraid to make the slightest noise she messaged pals who advised her the place to contact the police.
“I waited in full darkness, after which the police replied to ask my actual location,” she mentioned.
Police labored with the data she gave to coordinate an escape route and timing for individuals on that ground – and once they gave clearance that the shooter was three flooring down, all people simply sprinted to the fireplace exit.
At a crouching run, masked commandos led them to security.
Simply earlier than 11pm, she posted to pals that she was protected. – Reuters