Taking smartphones to a whole new level, protesters in Thailand are using downloaded apps which produce high-pitched, raucous noises that are a staple during rallies in the country.
One such app, called Nok Weed, which emits a shrill whistle — the whistle-blowing campaign — has been downloaded by over 70,000 people to use in demonstrations against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
According to its creator, the app “doesn’t do much and isn’t very useful” but it claimed the top spot on Google Play Store’s trending list last month within days of its November 4 debut. Most of the downloads for the Thai-language app were in Thailand but 1.2 per cent have come from Egypt, another country fraught with political turmoil.
The app’s popularity coincides with the rallies that started six weeks ago, attracting thousands of Bangkok’s smartphone carrying upper- and middle-classes in a country that is one of the world’s biggest users of social media.
Nok Weed’s developer, Narit Nakphong, realised there was an untapped market after demonstrators first took to the streets on October 31.
“I got the idea from seeing protesters blowing whistles. They blew them so much, they got tired. So I created the app,” said Narit, an independent developer who says he’s working on an update to address the main critique from users.
“Most of the criticism is from people saying the volume is too low. I want to make it as loud as possible without breaking the phones’ speakers.”
Protesters say they’re fed up with the Shinawatra family’s dominance over Thai politics. Yingluck is considered a proxy for her billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 army coup after being accused of corruption and using his power to enrich his family.