A video posted to a Thai Facebook page purporting to show a teacher in a Thai school beating the bejeebers out of a student has caused an uproar amongst Thai netizens and on various expat bulletin boards.
Enraged Thais and foreigners alike have pounced on the clip like a starving dog on a bone to launch a tirade of criticism against the Thai government and the Thai education system.
In the clip above what appears to be an adult male is seen striding across what appears to be a school classroom and launching a barrage of punches on what appears to be a student. Someone who intervenes is pushed into a corner and receives several punches to the stomach, before the attacker returns to his original victim, dragging him from his chair, sending a notebook flying through the air. The student is then pushed and shoved and can be seen to leave the room.
Viewed more than six million times in less than 23 hours of posting on the Thai Facebook page ‘Shotded’ with the caption ‘can teacher do this??’ written in Thai, the ‘teacher beating a student’ video has elicited more than 6,000 comments from Thais, been shared more 13,000 times and elicited some 17,000 reactions.
Similarly, on one online English-language expat forum renowned for its bar stool legal expertise, armchair online crime scene investigators, and ‘hang-em high’ juries, the outrage and criticism has been equally fierce, the topic billed as ‘Millions view shocking school violence as teacher appears to attack student’.
However, things are not always as they appear and this video only serves as a warning on how fake news is spread.
Rather than being a Thai school, the classroom in the video above is actually in Indonesia. Rather than being a teacher beating a student, the video actually depicts a fight between two students.
Quoting West Kalimantan Police Chief Inspector General Erwin Triwanto, Medeka.com reported on November 7 that the video above was recorded at a Vocational High School (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan or SMK) in Pontianak, the capital of Indonesia’s West Kalimantan Province.
According to the police chief the participants in the incident were both aged about 15 or 16, with the fight occurring after one of the class ten students erased something from a blackboard before the other student had had the time to copy the material.
According to Merdeka.com, the police chief said the incident has already been handled internally at the school and reported to the Ministry of Education. “The problem is over”, he reportedly said, noting that “there was no teacher or teaching activity occurring in the room at the time of the fight.”
In the meantime, 24 hours after posting, the Thai fake news item is still racking up more than 500,000 views an hour, and hundreds of shares, likes, and reactions.
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post.