The FBI released its file on Gamergate, an online movement that looks to stop feminist criticism of video games. How did they look to stop these types of critiques? With constant online harassment of avid female game journalists and bloggers, such as Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian.
...and the FBI refused to prosecute these men, who went as far as to send death and rape threats, even when they confessed to the harassment. Because who cares about the safety of women, right?
One specific incident, heavily referenced in the file, is the bomb threats to Utah State University. Sent via email, the harasser threatened to bomb a building of the university and conduct a “Montreal Massacre style attack” if the university didn’t cancel Anita Sarkeesian’s speaking engagement. Ultimately, Sarkeesian canceled her appearance at the school.
Another incident was the doxing (publication of one’s personal info for malicious purposes) of these feminist game critics. This resulted in SWATing (placing fake distress calls to the police with the hopes an armed response team will show up to the specified address) of targets, including Israel Galvez, an opposer of Gamergate. Brianna Wu was also doxed and threatened, which led her to flee her home.
Below is a description of the confession of one of the harassers:
I guess, since the guy claimed he would never send these types of threats (a federal crime) again, he was let off the hook. Because men tend to be taken at their word, even when their actions are to the contrary.
The FBI were able to locate a total of four of the participants of Gamergate, and none of them face any charges. The FBI claimed they were unable to "identify any subjects or actionable leads.”
“All this report does for me is show how little the FBI cared about the investigation. I’m fairly livid,” Brianna Wu, who is now running for Congress, told Heatstreet. “Assuming I win my race for Congress, the FBI can definitely expect me to request a meeting in my office about this appalling failure.”
As someone who has personally been the victim of online harassment, including doxing, it’s clear that there needs to be some better legislation surrounding these types of threats and harassment. Considering the four men the FBI were able to identify won’t face any charges, it sends the message to victims of this kind of abuse that it isn’t serious and basically doesn’t matter. According to Pew Research, young women as well as African American and Hispanic-identifying individuals tend to experience particularly severe forms of online harassment. With the FBI not investigating Gamergate any further (though, a quick look at sites like 4chan, 8chan and Reddit show the movement is still alive and well), it leads us to continue to believe that the safety and wellbeing of women and people of color truly don’t matter in this country - online or off.
Top Image via Flickr/Christiaan Colen
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Rafaella is a graduate of The New School, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's passionate about feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, combatting online harassment, and ending herpes stigma. Visit her website: ellagunz.com