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The Price of Truth: Female Journalists and Doxxing

A female journalist in Thailand. Photo by EngageMedia.

Guest post by Natasha Nutt

Highlighting the practice of doxxing and its disproportionate impact on female journalists, this probing analysis examines the film “Doxxed” by Thanakorn Yangmeesuk. The piece delves into how this cyber harassment tactic, which involves maliciously revealing personal information online, poses a grave threat to women’s safety, free speech, and the integrity of the free press. It underscores the urgency of combating doxxing through collective action from governments, tech companies, media outlets, and society at large to protect voices of truth and uphold democratic values.

This post is part of a series of issue analyses for the Tech Tales Youth film collection. Read the rest of the series here.

Doxxing, short for “document tracing,” is the act of revealing an individual’s private or personal information, such as their home address, phone number, or email, often to intimidate, harass, or silence individuals. In Thailand, nearly 500 people accused of opposing the monarchy found their personal information published on Google Maps. This invasion of privacy can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental well-being, as Doxxed illustrates: in the film, Jane suffers online abuse, fears real-world stalking and violence, and is subjected to the paranoia of not knowing who to trust.

Doxxing has a gender aspect to it, as it disproportionately affects women. In the era of digital journalism, female journalists who are vocal about sensitive issues or challenge the status quo are often targeted by online trolls and hate groups who seek to undermine their credibility and instil fear. This insidious practice poses a grave threat to the safety and well-being of women in the field, silencing their voices and penalising free speech.

Doxxing is not just an isolated practice but is part of a broader pattern of online abuse and misogyny. When female journalists are doxxed, it sends a chilling message to others, dissuading them from speaking out or covering contentious issues. The fear of being targeted can lead to self-censorship, hindering the free press and the essential role it plays in democracy.

Many organisations and digital platforms have recognised the gravity of this issue and are taking steps to combat doxxing. Social media platforms are working to improve their reporting and moderation systems, and some countries have implemented legislation to address online harassment. However, the battle against doxxing requires collective efforts from all stakeholders, including governments, tech companies, and the public.

In the face of this growing threat, female journalists must also take steps to protect themselves. This includes safeguarding their personal information, being vigilant about online security, and seeking support from their employers and colleagues. Media outlets play a crucial role in raising awareness about this issue and fostering a safer environment for their employees.

As society grapples with the implications of digital media, it must also confront the gender-based harassment and abuse that permeate this space. To protect the voices of female journalists and uphold the principles of a free and open press, concerted efforts must be made to combat doxxing and create a safer online environment for all journalists, regardless of their gender.

Watch the film