BANGKOK — A Thai Youtuber’s video about witch-hunting in the Middle Ages became a trial ground after netizens dug up old tweets in which the net idol expressed fury at those with different opinions.
Netizens began raising their pitchforks against Chananya “View” Techajaksemar, the owner of the “Point of View” YouTube channel, after she uploaded a video about the history of witch-hunting on Friday. Chananya compared witch-hunting to the vilification of those with opposing political opinions in Thai society.
“Should we stand up against cyberbullying, like when people stood up against witch-hunting in the Middle Ages?” Chananya said in the video. “Witch-hunting is still present in our modern society.”
A day later, netizens dug up seven-year-old tweets, accusing the literature and history buff of being a witch-hunter herself.
“Can I just file a 112 case against my friends? I’m starting to lose my temper at their insulting remarks. So you think you can say anything after learning history?” reads a now-deleted tweet by @pointoofview that refers to the lese majeste law. Under the law, insulting the monarchy carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
In another deleted tweet on March 10, 2013, Chananya pushes anyone who views Thailand as backwards to leave the country. “If you’re so smart, just leave,” the tweet reads.
Netizens appear to view Chananya’s tweets as contrary to her video’s inclusive, liberal narrative.
But Chananya defended her statements from seven years ago in a Sunday post, explaining that she never actually intended to sue her friends.
“First of all, I would like to apologize for the dissatisfaction caused upon seeing that message,” Chananya wrote. “My tweets at the time were just me complaining to myself and I did not intend to sue my friends. I cannot decline responsibility for what I did seven years ago…Over the past few years, I began to realize that certain laws are being used for political gain and I’m against that kind of exploitation.”
Amidst the fury, some users also pointed out that some posts attributed to Chananya were doctored, including one where she allegedly cheered on the “Popcorn Gunman” who opened fire against Redshirt protesters in 2014.
Others urged netizens to stop lambasting Chananya, comparing the digging to a fiasco involving Future Forward Party MP Pannika Wanich earlier this month where Phalang Pracharath MP Parina Kraikup accused Pannika of lese-majeste for pointing at a photo of King Rama IX in her graduation photos.
Dubbed by fans as a “Nerd Net Idol,” Chananya, an alumni from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, makes videos of herself talking mostly about literature and history. With more than 377,000 subscribers, her easy-to-digest analysis is popular among young audiences.
Despite her efforts to apologize, some netizens continued to dig up old posts, with the hashtag #PointOfView trending on Thai Twitter on Monday.
“Many of your thoughts were disgusting,” @looktarntontea2 tweeted on Monday with a collage of her derogatory posts. “You were not wrong for thinking differently, but you were wrong for cheering on the deaths of those who had different opinions to you.”
Witch-hunting, often taking the form of cyberbullying, is common on Thai internet and is regularly incited for political gain. A post on social media, even if deleted or protected with privacy settings, can become the basis for online outrage and even criminal prosecution if it touches upon sensitive topics like the monarchy.