Tag Archives: harassment

Intel, Vox Media, Re/code and the Born This Way Foundation Launch #HackHarassment

Kara Swisher, re/code:

The first knee-jerk reaction of those who think completely free speech is the paramount rule of the Internet is simple: Stop whining, you stupid girl, and take it, because everyone should be able to say exactly what they want, however they want and in whatever way they want to say it.

It’s a canard of an argument, designed to turn a complex issue into a reductive black-and-white debate where no one can come to any agreement.

Still, it’s always set up this way when anyone attempts to make the more obvious point that free speech is not as free as all that in the real world, where there are numerous social repercussions for behaving in a rude, obscene and appalling manner.

Simple example: If you loudly tell a woman she deserves to be raped for speaking her mind on any subject in the public square, at a party or at work, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get ejected from there and, at the very least, you’ll be subject to much-deserved derision and censure.

Not so on the Internet, where such talk is all too common and much too tolerated. Which is why Intel, Vox Media, Re/code and the Born This Way Foundation are coming together to co-create Hack Harassment (#hackharassment), a new, collaborative initiative to fight online harassment and provide safer, more inclusive online experiences.

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‘The most radical thing you can do to support women’

Anita Sarkeesian, as quoted by The Verge:

One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.

Falsehoods about me are initially pushed by detractors who use them to post to 4Chan and Reddit to rally more people to the cause. It’s bouncing from Twitter to Tumblr to Facebook to YouTube and back again. Once the cascade reaches a critical mass, it no longer matters what the facts are. It becomes a viral meme.

I really wish I had the privilege see Sarkeesian speak. Such an inspiring and perseverant woman. Opening and closing to a standing ovation at the XOXO Festival. Amazing.

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Poisoned Well

Zoe Quinn, as quoted by The Guardian, on Gamergate:

I think right now the well is incredibly poisoned: it’s likely a losing battle and that’s incredibly disappointing. I also feel like discussing ethics and fairness is antithetical to a campaign originated in and motivated by a fair bit of misogyny and harassment.

Does it say anything that my Twitter usage, gaming news consumption, and overall web browsing is down by a considerable amount?

It is exhausting to think that digital mobs and trolls may never be stopped due to the anonymous and unquantifiable nature of the digital space. I was young and dumb too, saying things in Quake and Starcraft chat rooms that were likely horrific by today’s standards. But I was an in monitored child. It wasn’t until real classroom debate, introduction to socially aware music and film, and being called out for my idiocy in person by a respected peer that I wised up.

Is that what we are dealing with? Are these children? Adults? Are they bluffing for fun? How many are there? A handful? Dozens? Hundreds? What failed their social growth?

In the real world, we can identify the source of seemingly monstrous shadows. In the digital world, shadows are the source.

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Social Justice Warriors?

An all-star roster of games journalists joined Adam Rosser on BBC Radio 5 live’s Game On for a discussion on the “social justice warrior.” Some of my favorite moments below:

Pat Garratt, VG247:

I’ve seen many squabbles on the Internet and they do sort of go the way of the dodo. I think what we are actually seeing is this section of the gaming community is about to be pushed out. I think that’s why their so angry. It’s literally like taking a toy away from a child. If you actually take a toy away from a child, they just completely freak out. This is exactly what is happening, I think.

Dan Person, GamesIndustry.biz:

There’s an awful lot of psychology and studies into this idea of the online personality; This idea of the power of anonymity, and the keyboard warrior and what that kind of does to people when you take away the consequences of actions in that way. That’s still a relatively new area of study. The Internet is certainly, in human terms, a very recent invention.

I think when you get unfettered and unregulated communities of young, let’s face it, mostly men who are operating in this way without any kind of adult or intelligent supervision, they can become very quickly violent and vile and unpleasant. That echo chamber can accentuate that effect. And then when somebody comes into the playroom and says, “hey guys. You know you should stop doing that and perhaps behave like adults,” there is often that phase of tantrum, basically. And if those children happen to be handling a large blunt object, then that can become dangerous.

Keza McDonald, Kotaku UK:

The Internet gamifies people. It turns you into someone who’s not a real person. You’re some imaginary thing on the end of a Twitter handle. It makes it easier for people to behave inhumanly towards you. Anyone who basically decides to do cultural criticism of games that goes beyond just the assessment of software will probably come up against people who ask them, “why can’t you just talk about the game?” Again, for these people, games are systems that are self-contained and for them the community and the world of gaming is also a system that is self-contained. So as soon as you start trying to place it in a real world context or you start talking about it in a way that they’re not used to, I think that it really confuses people and upsets them.

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‘How to attack a woman who works in video gaming’

Jenn Frank, The Guardian:

See, the best, most successful hate campaign dreams big. For some, it isn’t only about targeting one woman, two women, or a handful of women. The endgame is to frighten all women out of the video games industry – no matter what they write, film, create or produce – and to additionally frighten anyone who would support them.

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Au contraire

Dennis Scimeca, The Daily Dot:

One of the complaints is that if Quinn were a man who slept with women supposedly for influence, the games press would have been all over the story instead of remaining silent and ignoring the story out of fear they’ll be tarred with accusations of sexism.

Au contraire. Were the story about a man sleeping with women it would be even less of a story. Readers would virtually high-five the male developer because we celebrate male sexuality and punish female sexuality in our culture.

Don’t take my word for it. There’s decades of scholarly research to demonstrate the point. But it’s kind of a lost cause to ask these audience members to bother with research. Anita Sarkeesian has produced some of the bestresearched and documented studies of sexism in video games out there. Her critics accuse her of “cherry-picking” her data, however, which boggles the mind.

I’m with Fleishman.

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The Metaphorical Grocery Store

Chris Plante, Polygon:

Two groups are at opposite ends of this moment:

One side has folded its arms, slumped its shoulders while pouting like an obstinate child that has learned they are getting a little brother or sister but wants to remain the singular focus of his parents’ affection.

The other side has opened its arms, unable to contain its love and compassion, because they understand they are no longer alone.

This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It’s time to grow up. Let’s not wait until next week to start.

I am very happy to see writers Auerbach and Plante echo each other’s sentiment of “childish rhetoric.” I’m even happier that Plante is escalating this conversation to include the reality of the situation.

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Free speech and online creeps

Jessica Valenti of The Guardian on Elonis v. United States: whether threats made on social media are protected by free speech.

No one is arguing that people can’t say hateful things or call people names; the emails I get calling me a “slut” and a “feminazi” are immoral, but they’re not (and shouldn’t be) illegal. Threats and the invasion of privacy, though, are different – even in the most public of places: your right to be a “creep” doesn’t trump everyone else’s right to a life free from violence and the fear of it.

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