It’s become common place in today’s online media market to post up lies and defamation to push agendas. We see it all the time from large media websites like Gawker, Vox and The Verge. What we don’t always expect is to see it from reputable outlets like the BBC, Time Magazine or The Washington Post.
Speaking of the Post… culture critic Caitlin Dewey wrote a piece on The Washington Post on February 17th, 2016 attacking #GamerGate and Eron Gjoni. This follows on the news that Zoe Quinn has dropped the harassment charges against Gjoni, and that Gjoni is pursuing an appeal regarding the use of what’s being labeled as an unconstitutional gag order.
For The Washington Post to be a large scale outlet the one thing most people would have expected is far less defamation and a lot more citation. Nevertheless, Dewey peppers the article with lots of articulate conjecture and purported sophistry, writing…
“Quinn and her family had been deluged by threats so severe that Quinn fled her home in Boston, afraid for her life.”
This is incorrect.
According to Quinn’s own admission, she stated on August 1st, 2014 that she was planning on spending the rest of the year on a vacation trip in Europe. This was detailed over on the website The Ralph Retort. No other major media website reported on it because they were repeating the misinformation that Quinn had fled her home in fear of her life. An archive of the tweet is available thanks to indie developer from Vlambeer, Rami Ismail.
Dewey also repeats a very blatant lie about #GamerGate spreading around nudes of Quinn, even though the nudes are publicly available and were for a paid shoot that were snapped by photographer Mallorie Nasrallah. The nudes were for the former porn site called Broken Dolls. Quinn admitted to this in a series of Tweets that are still available via Archive. An image of the original tweets from March 24th, 2015 can also be viewed below where Quinn admits to doing porn.
Further in the article Dewey writes…
“She attached a screenshot from the Reddit forum “GGFreeForAll”: “If Eron goes to jail,” the post reads, “I will hunt Zoe Quinn down and rape her.”
“Quinn wasn’t necessarily scared by this faceless Reddit troll — the statement is typical of her inbox and Twitter “@”-replies these days. But to Quinn, it confirmed a fear voiced by other victims of cyberharassment before her: that the legal system couldn’t, or wouldn’t, ever really protect her from the Internet hordes.”
This is misinformative. The person Dewey is quoting (and the source that the author fails to cite) isn’t just a troll but actually a “false flagger”. These “false flags” are used to do exactly what authors like Dewey did and cite these instances as proof of conduct, when in reality they are attempts to do nothing more than get a rise out of people, as explained by John Bain, better known as TotalBiscuit. In a recent article published by the BBC, Bain states…
“Trolls look for attack vectors and since a lot of trolls are sexist, they will use someone’s gender as an attack vector. They are looking for the most personal gap in your armour. Most of the attacks I receive are based on my appearance, or my work. Cancer was something in particular that people have used to try and attack me. They go to my wife and say, ‘how does it feel that your husband is going to die soon and leave you?’”
Now Dewey doesn’t actually link or cite the source of the quote used in the article because it was quickly removed after being posted to the sub-Reddit /r/GGFreeForAll/, which is a debate sub between pro-#GamerGate and anti-#GamerGate.
Dewey makes no mention that the post was deleted or that the original user, TaxTime2018, was suspended for making the threatening thread on Reddit. Instead Dewey uses the misinformation as a way to further pin the claims of harassment on both #GamerGate and Gjoni.
Later in the article Dewey writes…
“While the hateful and amorphous trolls who collectively called themselves “Gamergate” have since morphed into a neo-reactionary movement, bent largely on fighting “social justice warriors” online, its roots lie in Quinn and Gjoni’s personal relationship,”
Additionally, labeling people like Christina Hoff Sommers, Adam Baldwin or even Brad Wardell, Mercedes Carrera, Oliver Campbell or Allum Bokhari as “hateful” and “amorphous trolls” is libelous defamation, unless Dewey has a citation to back up those claims.
The article further notes…
“[Eron Gjoni] would later tweet that he suspected “The Zoepost” would provoke harassment but that he chose to publish anyway.”
He explicitly states the following to preface the post.
Dewey purposefully omits Gjoni’s plea for people not to harass Quinn, thus misrepresenting how he presented the information.
Some of the commenters on Dewey’s article took away from the framing of the piece that Gjoni led a mob of harassers against his ex, with users like Icmc4 writing…
“What a truly reprehensible person Eron Gjoni is. To unleash not just his own vitriol against an ex, but to incite the internet mob against her, and even now not regret any of the harrassment Zoe Quinn has undergone because of him. Wow. A real shame that he gets away with being a bully, and that so many people support someone so obnoxious and morally bankrupt.”
Later in the article it’s written that the Zoe Post incites the ethics in journalism movement…
“Gjoni’s allegation that Quinn had slept with a writer at a prominent gaming website, presumably to score a good review.”
Dewey also fails to note that Gjoni never used the word “review” in the Zoe Post and that Nathan Grayson, a writer for Kotaku, wrote several favorable pieces about Quinn without disclosure and also paid Quinn $800 without disclosure.
Dewey goes on to paint a picture of a dangerous online mob threatening and harassing Quinn, writing…
“Within a span of weeks, they had begun latching onto Quinn’s friends, employers and defenders, finding more menacing ways to embarrass, threaten or silence her.”
Dewey also quotes a law professor claiming that there are too many “actors” involved in harassment for police to go after in a case like Quinn’s; this is patently false.
If there were as many “actors” partaking in criminal behavior against Quinn as journalists claim, then there would be evidence… just like the false flag attempt on Reddit that can easily be traced back to a source. The fact that Dewey provides no evidence pointing to an actual hate mob other than anecdotal testimony is suspect.
Obviously when #GamerGate was moving millions of tweets across Twitter throughout 2014 and 2015 — and with multiple surveys covering the conduct on the tag — there should be ample evidence of harassment, right? Wrong
The WAM report recorded only 0.66% of users on the #GamerGate blocklist that were reported for harassment when utilizing the hashtag. Another study done by data scientist Chris von Csefalvay, who broke down a separate study of #GamerGate’s tweet percentages, wrote…
“90–85% of mentions are neutral—neither positive nor negative. Not hateful or helpful. They are just tweets that are neutral.”
So if 90% of #GamerGate’s tweets are neutral, what about the negative tweets? Well, TechRaptor actually did do a breakdown of what could be construed as positive or negative tweets, and it turns out that none of the tweets that author Georgina Young analyzed from the pro-#GamerGate side contained violence in the message. She did find that less than 2% of Pro-#GamerGate tweets consisted of harassment, while 7% of anti-#GamerGate tweets also made up for harassment.
So then where is this raging hate mob claim coming from and where is Dewey getting this data?
Nevertheless, Dewey goes on to state…
“On Feb. 10, Quinn officially decided not to pursue criminal harassment charges against Gjoni, concluding that the abuse was more likely to stop if she didn’t fight it in court.”
On a blog post Quinn says she had a “huge stack of evidence” but also stated that the law/judicial/civil servants claimed they didn’t know how the internet worked and ignored the evidence. Surprisingly, none of the journalists covering this story seem to have published this damning evidence against #GamerGate and Eron Gjoni.
If all of this harassment existed then simple screenshots and archives should have been enough, just like in the case of Justin Carter who was jailed based on documented comments he made on Facebook, as reported by CNN. Also, if pro-#GamerGater advocates can use screenshots and archives to point out lies made against them, then people claiming to be harassed and hounded should be able to do the same, and present it for public scrutiny.
While some might say trolls like TaxTime2018 is proof of said harassment campaign, it’s also proof that these harassers are being dealt with via bans and exclusion from online communities. If there’s some sort of persistent harassment going on, showing proof would quickly result in action.
What’s more is that according to the Boston, Massachusetts case docket regarding the original gag order, Gjoni has filed a brief challenging the gag order that prevented him from speaking about Quinn publicly in any capacity for a lengthy period of time. He explained back on August 4th, 2015 – in a post on Reddit – that separate from the harassment charges, the gag order itself is being viewed as unconstitutional…
“The story so far is that after a 5 minute hearing in which my attorney was not allowed to cross-examine the plaintiff, I was not given an opportunity to speak, the judge avoided looking at any evidence we tried to present, and the judge cited the wrong case-law: I got served with a gag-order.
“When my attorney asked to be heard on the First Amendment issue, the judge said simply “I’ll leave that to your client’s appellate rights.” In other words: “what I’m doing may very well be unconstitutional, but if your client wants his freedom of speech back, he will have to spend a ton of money, and in the interim be gagged for the more than year-long appellate process.”
The appeal regarding the gag order will head to court in March of this year.
As for the Washington Post article… Dewey actually wraps up by giving a little bit of Gjoni’s side of the story, acknowledging that he is challenging the gag order based on the violation of First Amendment rights, while also stating…
“There is one party that hasn’t tired of that process, however — and that is Gamergate.”
Dewey fails to mention that if Gjoni wins it breaks the media narrative because rights would have been infringed upon in order to maintain a restraining order based on misinformation. Journalists who have been publishing libel for the past two years will either have to ignore the case if Gjoni wins, fabricate more lies or break their own narrative and explain how they misrepresented the whole story and blatantly lied by omitting facts to push an agenda.
In conclusion, #GamerGate continues to exist solely because of poorly researched and defamatory hit-pieces published by sites like the Washington Post, not because of some evidence-free conspiracy theory that gamers don’t want women in gaming.