It is said that Thais are some of the most connected people on the planet with many relying on the internet for their news and information. In fact it was announced recently by the people at Google that YouTube, now part of the Google empire, is more popular than television.
Online Google searches in the days following the death of His Majesty Bhumibol Adiuladej show how the population in Thailand was reacting to and following the news that stunned the nation.
On Friday 14th October, one day after the king’s death, online activity was intense. Three topics received in excess of 100,000 searches – these were news of the funeral procession, searches for the King of Thailand and news of the king. Searches for pictures of the departed monarch were in the 50,000 plus range as were requests for information on the title that the king would be afforded now that he had passed on.
The trending subject “I was born in the time of the ninth dynasty” was also requested 50,000 plus times. Though Thais were still following other news – a similar number of searches were made on the story of a controversial Thai costume winning best national dress at a pageant in Sri Lanka.
By Saturday Google searches were less than one fifth of Friday’s peak. While news of the visit to the funeral rites of the Royal family of Bhutan caused 20,000 searches so did requests for information about the English Premier League. These were the top two items along with news about the end of Buddhist Lent and a ceremony in Yala held for His Majesty.
On Sunday the top items Thais wanted to know about were the Queen of Bhutan, the death from cancer of a well-known TV Channel 3 executive, the funeral arrangements for the king, black clothes in relation to Buddhist Lent and information about railway journeys to the capital.
On Monday the top items were people seeking information on how to sign the condolence book at the Grand Palace, the continuing visit of the Bhutanese Royal family and the lese majeste cases in the South of Thailand.
Those cases centered around a woman forced to apologize to a picture of His Majesty outside a police station in Koh Samui and a mob that gathered in Phuket after a man was accused of defaming the royal institution.
Interest in the Bhutanese Royal Family has been high ever since a visit made by a handsome prince from the Himalayan kingdom to the Thai king’s 60th anniversary of accession to the throne in 2006.