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Unraveling the Complexities: Illuminating Doxxing Through Film

From L to R: Weeraya, a filmmaker and Tech Tales Youth impact coordinator, Thitirat Thipsamritkul, advisor at Amnesty International Thailand, Meen filmmaker of Doxxed, Dr. Jessada Salathong, professor at the Faculty of Communication Arts at Chulalongkorn University, Patipat, filmmaker of Black Hole, and Kanwaela Soa-ruen, an entertainment news editor and anchor of Workpoint23.

Guest post by Aly Suico

A keen cinephile, Thanakorn “Meen” Yangmeesuk is a Thai filmmaker who always finds an opportunity to learn and practice making films as a student at the Department of Communication Arts and Information Science at Kasetsart University. His first short film as a director and writer, One Use (2022), was part of the CCCL Film Festival Official Selection 2023.

Meen’s passion for making films engages him in various genres of cinema. He uses his platform to tell impactful stories, which led him to impact filmmaking as a participant in EngageMedia’s Tech Tales Youth program. Meen recounts his experience using his film Doxxed to draw attention to digital rights in Thailand.

On spotlighting impact

When Meen began to notice the rise in news stories about information leaks in Thailand, he found it particularly interesting that the issue wasn’t getting as much traction. Meen observed that the issue of digital privacy wasn’t making its rounds in people’s conversations despite the increasing cases of call center scams and data privacy violations leading to online abuse and harassment.

Meen didn’t know much about digital rights at the time. All he knew was that digital scams and information leaks violated people’s basic right to their privacy. This prompted Meen to use his skills in filmmaking and storytelling to contribute to the larger landscape of narratives on digital rights in Thailand. If news stories weren’t cutting it, maybe it was time for creative forms to pitch in, knowing Thai people haven’t connected digital rights as something relevant in their lives yet. Meen stood firm in the belief that messages as important as this can be told effectively through film, helping people open up their minds and understand how close an issue digital rights can be, and that it isn’t as complicated as it may sound.

Meen began to research deeper into the issue, fleshing out the effects that these violations, such as invasion of privacy had on the ground. He came across numerous news articles and case studies touching on cyberbullying, and online abuse manipulation. Notable in his research was the gender aspect of doxxing, affecting women more. Women are once again placed in a vulnerable position, even in the digital arena, being subject to tech abuse, online stalking, and blackmailing. Unfortunately, these experiences aren’t new for women but just a replication of what they face offline.

For Meen, who identifies as male, it was important to capture the mental, emotional, and physical distress doxxing has on women. He listed to stories from the women closest to him: his girlfriend, family, and university friends. The gravity of their experiences of harassment didn’t stop with receiving threatening messages, but as Meen would learn, took on many different forms. Hearing these stories encouraged him to  come up with the story of Doxxed.

On driving impact

Poster of the Tech Tales Youth film Doxxed
Thanakorn “Meen” Yangmeesuk, Director of the film

Identifying a specific issue early on in the conceptualisation of a film is a vital step in impact filmmaking. This helps inform the direction the film’s distribution will take to achieve its strategic impact. This was one key lesson Meen picked up from his impact campaign journey. His film Doxxed identified very specific sectors in society portrayed by his main character, Jane: Thai youth, journalists and media workers, and women.

Meen collaborated with two other Tech Tales Youth filmmakers to organise a joint impact screening at the Thai cinema space and cafe, Doc Club and Pub. The three films each tackled different aspects of digital rights, which served as a conversation starter for a panel discussion. A rich conversation surrounding the different aspects of digital rights ensued through the help of invited speakers, Kanwaela Soa-ruen, an entertainment news editor and anchor from Thai channel Workpoint23, Dr. Jessada Salathong, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Communication Arts at Chulalongkorn University, and Thitirat Thipsamritkul, advisor at Amnesty International Thailand and also a professor at the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University.

The panel discussion helped the audience of about 26 young Thais understand the effects of document tracing, online scams, and information leaks in their everyday lives. Through the help of the invited rights experts, storytellers, filmmakers, and their films, the issue was broken down in ways that helped the audience realise that it wasn’t as complicated as they thought.

After the event, the audience approached the speakers to ask more about digital hygiene and other measures they could practice to protect themselves online. Included in the audience was Meen’s friend who also did not know much about the issue. He shared with Meen how the event helped him gain a better understanding of the bigger picture of digital rights issues in Thailand.

An engaged audience of students attends the screening and discussion at Doc Club and Pub.
Tech Tales Youth films from Thailand captivate the audience as media and academe speakers share their insights during the post-screening discussion.

On targeting impact allies

One of Meen’s inspirations was journalist Kanwaela Soa-ruen, one of the panelists. Kanwaela shared her own experience of being harassed as a journalist, and she told Meen that his film effectively conveyed the feeling of how unsafe women are, especially due to the vulnerabilities exposed in the digital realm. During the discussion, she revealed that her mother had been threatened by a group of people after they found out she was a journalist. This information came as a surprise to Meen, as he had only learned about it during the discussion.

Seeing his short film’s impact on victims of digital rights violations, Meen saw how important it is to correctly identify and reach out to his target audience. Current practices in film distribution usually drive the filmmakers to cast their net wide in terms of audience reach, driving their efforts mainly on securing platforms that would serve as vehicles to drive interest in their films. Meen found another route: maximising allies and on-ground storytellers to further the reach and impact of his film. 

Meen’s experience in impact production and campaigning brought him to a new level of appreciation for the power of filmmaking. He realised that beyond just opening up perspectives, films can also create a space for discussing issues that people struggle to recognise. Through his impact activities, Meen and his fellow filmmakers emphasised the value of critical conversation among key members of society and the collaboration it offers in finding solutions.

Meen is looking beyond the Tech Tales Program to create more films addressing human rights issues, with a romantic comedy twist in the story. His goal is to make large issues like digital rights and human rights easier to understand and discuss, particularly among young people.

Journalist Kanwaela Soa-ruen shares her experiences of being doxxed and describes how Meen's film resonated with her.
Students make final touches to their video projects before the presentation.

In fusing creativity and advocacy, Meen recommends the following films that he watched in the production of Doxxed:

See Meen’s Video4Change Impact Campaign Builder below: