Twitter Launches ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ Emoji As The Movement Grows
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Twitter app loads on an iPhone in this illustration photo
From Patpicha Tanakasempipat
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Social media giant Twitter launched an emoji on Thursday for the Milk Tea Alliance, a global online movement for democracy, anti-Beijing activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan with protesters in Thailand, Myanmar and brought them together beyond that.
Activists hailed the announcement of the emoji – a white mug on a tri-color background depicting various shades of milk tea in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan – to mark the movement’s first anniversary.
The Milk Tea Alliance grew out of a Twitter war that broke out after Chinese nationalists accused a young Thai actor and his girlfriend of supporting Hong Kong democracy and Taiwan independence.
It is named after a shared passion for sweet tea drinks in the three locations.
The use of the hashtag peaked again in February after the military coup in Myanmar, when protesters using the hashtag gathered regional support.
“We saw more than 11 million tweets with the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance in the past year,” said Twitter in an announcement that made the hashtag one of the top trends in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan on Thursday.
Previously, Twitter launched emojis for #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements.
The Twitter emoji showed global recognition and added credibility to the youth movement, said well-known Thai activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, one of the alliance’s leading voices.
“It’s important because it shows young people fighting for democracy that the world is with them and that they are making a difference,” Netiwit told Reuters. “It’s a sign that online activism can go much further.”
Twitter is blocked in China and the apparent endorsement of a movement with strong opposition to Beijing shouldn’t hurt its business, said James Buchanan, a lecturer at Mahidol University International College in Bangkok.
“Twitter has a lot to gain by engaging young people in the Asian markets that are open to them,” he said.
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