Twitter is launching the Milk Tea Alliance emoticons as the Democracy Movement grows

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Social media giant Twitter released emojis on Thursday for the Milk Tea Alliance, a global online pro-democracy movement that brought together anti-Beijing activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan with protesters in Thailand, Myanmar and beyond.

Activists welcomed the announcement of emoji – a white cup set against three colors representing different shades of milk tea in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan – for the first anniversary of the movement.

The Alliance for Milk Tea originated from Twitter a war that erupted after Chinese nationalists accused a young Thai actor and his girlfriend of supporting democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s independence.

It is named after a shared passion for sweet tea drinks in all three places.

The use of the hashtag peaked again in February after a military coup in Myanmar, where protesters using the hashtag gathered regional support.

“We’ve seen more than 11 million tweets with the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance in the last year,” said a Twitter message that replaced the hashtag as the most popular in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan on Thursday.

Earlier, Twitter released emoticons for the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements.

The emojis on Twitter showed worldwide recognition and gave more confidence to the youth movement, said the famous Thai activist Netivit Chotifatfaisal, one of the leading voices of the alliance.

“It’s important because it shows young people who are fighting for democracy that the world is with them and they are making an impact,” Netivit told Reuters. “It’s a sign that online activism can go much further.”

Twitter is blocked in China, and its apparent approval of a movement strongly opposed to Beijing is unlikely to hurt its business, said James Buchanan, a professor at Mahidol University International College in Bangkok.

“Twitter has something to gain by appealing to young people in Asian markets who are open to them,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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