South by South West (SXSW) organisers are pondering an all-day event that focuses on online harassment after cancelling two panels on “GamerGate” that looked to tackle the issue, citing security concerns.
Staff at SXSW pulled two panels yesterday, one of which was affiliated with the GamerGate movement. The other, which included programmer Randi Harper, did not specifically focus on GamerGate harassment in video games but the online community in general. According to Re/Code, Harper’s panel has been reinstated (although Harper clarified that none of the panelists had agreed to appear).
Two high-profile media outlets — BuzzFeed and Vox Media, which owns The Verge and Polygon — threatened to pull-out of SXSW because of the cancellations. By silencing those who want to speak out about harassment, the companies argue, they are letting the perpetrators win.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding holding an event focused on online harassment would be security. Many of those who have been targeted by the GamerGate movement have received death threats. Hugh Forrest, the director of the event, wrote on the SXSW website that “[we are] working with local law enforcement to assess the various threats received regarding these sessions.”