Software maker Adobe has joined a small but growing list of companies that are distancing themselves away from the GamerGate controversy.
On Tuesday, the company tweeted that it asked Gawker to remove its logo from Gawker’s advertising page and that it “stands against bullying.”
The controversy involves death threats via tweets (or comments on blogs) aimed at women who have criticised sexism in the gaming industry. The GamerGate camp is composed of people who believe that the reaction to those threats is overblown, or that some of the threats were scams on the part of the women or that the men who play video games are the real victims, as they are being painted as misogynists.
Valleywag writer Sam Biddle wrote a post about GamerGate titled “The D-List Right Wingers Who’ve Turned GamerGate Into Their Loser Army.” He also wrote a series of tweets against GamerGate and its supporters.
For example, in one tweet he writes, “Ultimately #GamerGate is reaffirming what we’ve known to be true for decades: nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission.”
Biddle, who is frequently sarcastic on Twitter, told Re/code, “I have literally not seen a single person who is not a GamerGate supporter who did not get that I was very obviously joking. Not a single one.”
No matter. His tweet set off a twitterstorm from people who labelled him a supporter of bullying.
And now advertisers of the company that employs him are taking a stand.
Adobe’s logo was included in the brand partners section of Gawker’s advertising page. The brand partners section has been removed, but Re/code points out that it was removed a few days ago. You can see an archived version of the page here.
Biddle has also apologised for the initial tweets. And Gawker editorial director Joel Johnson also called it a “bad joke” in a post on the site on Wednesday. He goes on to say, “For anyone who might be perplexed, of course Gawker Media does not endorse bullying.”
Game developer Brianna Wu, one of the women who says she was forced out of her home after receiving death threats from GamerGate supporters, told The Verge that Biddle’s tweets were “tone deaf.” But she was among many who disagreed with Adobe pulling its sponsorship.
Adobe later issued another tweet, saying that it was opposed to any group that bullies.
We are vehemently opposed to bullying of any kind and would never support any group that bullies.
— Adobe (@Adobe) October 22, 2014
The intricacies of GamerGate are complicated and the irony is that both sides of the issue are claiming that they are being harassed and bullied.
Some video game fans say that journalists and game developers are too close, and are calling into question the ethics of video game journalists. But it quickly devolved into harassment of women in the industry. Supporters of the idea that it is the gamers being victimized, not women who have receieved threats, have rallied behind the “GamerGate” hashtag on Twitter and elsewhere.
Those in the GamerGate camp are being blamed for a wide variety of threats against women. Anita Sarkeesian, who recently canceled an appearance at Utah State University after death threats, says at least one of the many threats against her and feminists at the university claimed affiliation with GamerGate.
And GamerGate supporters don’t view Biddle’s tweet as a joke, either. They say is proves that they, too, are victims of harassment and bullying.
Some GamerGate supporters have created a five-point campaign in order to get companies such as Adobe and others to pull support from sites they view as being anti-GamerGate, according to The Washington Post.
Gawker’s editor in chief, Max Read, addressed the situation in a blog post on Wednesday
, saying that the campaign has worked. “… We’ve lost thousands of dollars already, and could potentially lose thousands more, if not millions,” he writes.
In addition to Adobe distancing itself from Gawker, Mercedes-Benz also pulled advertising with the site, according to the Washington Post. It later reinstated its ad campaign.
And Intel pulled advertising from gaming site Gamasutra over an opinion piece about sexism in the gaming industry. Intel later apologised, but said it was not reinstating its ads.
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