2 SXSW discussion panels on online harassment have been cancelled due to threats of violence

A South By South West (SXSW) panel on online harassment has been cancelled due to threats of violence, The Verge reports. The panel, hosted by programmer Randi Harper, was called “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.”

In a tweet, Harper claimed the panel was shuttered due to a high level of threats from those associated with GamerGate, the online movement that has criticised various prominent women in game development.

Another panel, hosted by the Open Gaming Society, was also cancelled. The topic was “A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and while it wasn’t specifically promoted as a GamerGate-related it featured speakers affiliated with the movement, according to The Verge. Topics included “the importance of journalistic integrity in video [game] media.”

Hugh Forrest, the interactive director for SXSW, posted a statement that explained the decision to remove the panels:

[P]reserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree, and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.

Over the years, we are proud of the healthy community of digital innovators that has formed around SXSW. On occasions such as this one, this community necessitates strong management to survive.

The Open Gaming Society also released a statement that said the situation “grew out of control very quickly and was more intense than anything that [we] have had to deal with.” The group plans to hold the panel elsewhere.

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