A bunch of journalists failed to check the facts and have been erroneously defending a hoaxer who claimed that he had received lots of harassment and more than a thousand personal attacks over the loot box controversy looming over the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II. It started with the following tweet on November 13th, 2017 from Twitter user BiggSean66.
Fortune’s article looked especially egregious, insofar that they not only highlighted BiggSean66’s alleged death threats, but also attempted to drag #GamerGate into it as well, all while giant ads for Star Wars: Battlefront II play on the site.
Fortune writer Chris Morris writes…
“Death threats over game features came into vogue during the early days of the GamerGate controversy. For angry gamers, those sort of actions hurts their chances of actually being listened to.”
Waypoint’s vertical on Vice saw Patrick Klepek defending BiggSean66, who claimed to work for Electronic Arts. In an article published on November 13th, 2017, Klepek wrote…
“’So I’m up to 7 death threats, and over 1600 individual personal attacks now (and yes, for legal reasons I’m keeping track),” said one EA developer on Twitter, known for being regularly outspoken. “And why, you might ask? Because of an unpopular feature in a game.”
“This developer became a target after defending Battlefront II’s approach to grinding, loot boxes, and microtransactions, the latest skirmish in an ongoing conversation in games. Most notably, this developer did not work on Battlefront II. Their crime is also working for EA. What set off this firestorm? A rather banal remark.”
However, it turns out that there’s no proof that BiggSean66 is even an employee at Electronic Arts, much less an actual developer.
Jason Schreier from Kotaku actually dug into BiggSean66’s background after the account made some odd tweets that seemed disconcerting to Schreier. After fishing around, it turns out that he could find no evidence that BiggSean66 ever worked at Electronic Arts, and the publisher responded to Schreier’s inquiry about the alleged employee receiving thousands of personal attacks. EA responded by saying that they have nothing on record to verify that BiggSean66 works for them or has received death threats…
“We take threats against our employees very seriously. Our first concern is ensuring safety and support for our people, and since the reports first surfaced we’ve been investigating this internally. At this time, we’re not able to verify this individual’s claims of employment at EA, nor the threats made against him.”
After EA was unable to verify if BiggSean66 actually worked for them, Schreier decided to reach out and actually contact BiggSean66 to interview him about his claims and employment at EA after he was unable to verify that the man was who he claimed to be. BiggSean66 declined a phone interview but then failed to respond to any of Schreier’s inquiries. Shortly thereafter he protected his tweets and have made it where users are unable to view the content on his account.
A bunch of websites used the fake death threats to rout the conversation away from the loot boxes and the gambling controversy attached to Star Wars: Battlefront II and herd people like sheep into hating on their own community, which many people blindly did because they think that the media would never lie to them.
It turns out that the death threats and unverified claims about personal attacks was just a red herring to further tarnish the gaming community and continue to fuel the antagonism directed at gamers. None of the journalists bothered to check who BiggSean66 was or whether he even had proof of harassment. Since Sean was a male and was not part of the GJP, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier decided to actually fact check his claims and it turns out that BiggSean66’s tweets about harassment are nothing more than a hoax.
If BiggSean66 or other journalists can provide evidence that harassment actually took place, then this story will be updated. However, back in 2014 journalists erroneously claimed that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign, and for the last three years gamers have been asking for evidence that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign and still haven’t received any.
The fake news feeds and corporate defense of anti-consumer practices by the media proves that now more than ever something like #GamerGate was necessary to uproot the corruption that is rife within the media industry.