Twitter unveils emoji for pro-democracy Milk Tea Alliance

Twitter unveils emoji for pro-democracy Milk Tea Alliance
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Twitter has launched a new emoji in honor of the online pro-democracy movement Milk Tea Alliance that has gained popularity among protesters in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Myanmar. 

The Twitter Public Policy account announced the emoji late Wednesday in a thread to “celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance.” 

Tweets that include the hashtag will now also feature an image of a white cup set against a background that features “3 different types of milk tea colours from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” the platform wrote. 

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The movement first arose last year following a Twitter war in which Chinese nationalists accused a young Thai actor and his girlfriend of supporting the ongoing democracy movement in Hong Kong, as well as Taiwanese independence, according to Reuters

Twitter said that since April 2020, it has recorded more than 11 million posts with #MilkTeaAlliance, with conversations hitting peaks when it first launched and again in February following the military-led coup in Myanmar that ousted the country’s civilian government. 

Twitter has created emojis in the past for other social movements that have gained significant traction online, including #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, writing Thursday that the platform “continues to play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements that are happening around the world.” 

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“During times of civil unrests or violent crackdowns, it is more important than ever for the public to have access to the #OpenInternet for real-time updates, credible information, and essential services. #KeepitOn,” Twitter added in a follow-up tweet. 

Twitter went on to write, “We strongly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a staunch defender and advocate of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns.” 

Twitter’s announcement was followed Thursday by Myanmar’s military junta ramping up its crackdown on the country’s internet and communications services. 

The Associated Press reported that the military placed further limits on fiber broadband service, which provided the last legal way citizens could communicate with each other.

Burmese authorities were also seen Thursday confiscating satellite dishes. 

The Biden administration on Thursday placed additional sanctions on Myanmar in response to the February coup, which the military has attempted to justify with claims of corruption among now-deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. 

More than 600 people have been killed thus far as a result of police crackdowns on ongoing anti-coup protests, and more than 2,800 people have been arrested during the demonstrations.