#Gamergate is a relatively recent, but rampant, phenomenon in social media, cyber-bullying and sexism, typically targeting female developers and members of the Video Game industry. Blasts of misogynistic online attacks in forms such as Doxxing, Swatting, defamation and threatening acts of online harassment are still ongoing, coordinated by the #gamergate hashtag, despite recent efforts of Twitter to step-up their security standards, and the creation of support groups such as Crash Override.
Social Media Origins....
The basic origins and objectives of these attacks began with coordinated “attacks” on specific individuals on forums functioning on UGC such as reddit, 4chan, 8chan and Twitter, where personal details of individuals (and false information) were posted and shared, such as home addresses, phone numbers and more. This is a technique known, and previously discussed on our blog, as doxxing, and is the main element of #Gamergate. The first use of the hashtag #Gamergate was by actor Adam Baldwin, who has actively spoken on the matter.
Gamergate - The Gaming "Ethics" Discussion
As Buzzfeed commented; In gaming many articles, particularly reviews, are indeed a combination of fact and opinion. If a journalist knowingly agrees to write a review on a game or company that they have a personal or financial tie to, it is highly unlikely they would be able to position themselves neutrally enough to cover it fairly, and they should either recuse themselves or disclose the conflict. Therefore, #Gamergate “Ethics” revolve around
- A call for ethical reform in the games press, mainly in disclosure of either personal or financial conflicts of interest between a journalist and a subject they are reviewing or reporting on.
- It is a response to ideological manipulation of the gaming industry, and the censorship that has occurred as a result of this.
Objectives of #Gamergate
This extremist form of doxxing and online harassment has been defended as culture war over gaming culture diversification (from the traditionally male community), but has extended into personal attacks on specific (predominantly outspoken female) gamers. It has been described as “a call for recognition and social criticism of video games and the gamer social identity”. Supporters of #Gamergate claim that they call for more social criticism in game reviews, but it is clearly an unethical conspiracy among ideological opponents. (The most proactive opponents to this movement identify themselves as feminists, progressives and the social justice movement). But the ethics of this have progressed from a social and ethical argument of diversity – to actual and severe Cybercrime.
Cybersecurity and Policing Standards.
The argument for self policing has very much come into play when disputing the legality and liability of those engaging in this form of online harassment. What responsibility, if any, supporters of #Gamergate share when the hashtag is used for harassment?
Katherine Clark, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, called on the House Appropriations Committee, requesting they call on the Justice Department to crack down on the harassment of women on the Internet, saying the "'Gamergate' intimidation campaign" has only highlighted the problem and there are layers of underlying issues of doxxing, defamation and swatting. (Swatting are hoaxed reports to emergency services, using personal details placed on the internet, intended to provoke a SWAT team response to the targets home. Again, many of these hoaxes are coordinated online).
Amidst constant calls on Twitter for higher security standards, and Dick Costolo (CEO) admitting "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Twitter have finally unveiled measures to identify and stop those who engage with harassment on the platform. The new implementations also simplifies the process for users to report “impersonation, self harm and the sharing of private and confidential information”, creating a breakthrough in the fight against doxxing and trolls posting content to solely create controversy. Twitter has also tripled the size of their safety staff since December, and will further be able to suspend the doxxer and ultimately attempt to access – their- information, creating potential problems for hackers such as Anonymous and Lizard Squad.
Founded by game developers and victims of Gamergater, Zoe Quinn and Alex Lifscitz, this pro bono group was set up to aid victims of online abuse, notably doxxing and threats. Run by fellow targets and victims of online harassment, they provide a resource for those suffering and aiming to prevent doxxing attacks, death threats, swatting and more.
According to Wikipedia, the organisation's services are divided into three categories: ongoing assistance for victims, crisis centre support, and victim outreach. They provide counselling services, help seeking shelter (as many victims can't return to their homes once their address is disclosed), and access to experts in information security, law enforcement and threat monitoring.
The Role of WebPreserver
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The information and materials on this blog are provided for general and informative purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Content on this blog is not intended to substitute the advice of a licensed attorney, as laws are subject to change and vary with time, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Content on this blog may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up-to-date.