Elon Musk recently purchased Pravduh.com, and is moving forward with opening up a ratings and curation website that ranks and offers critical feedback on journalists and their publications. The website is, in theory, going to be a mainstream version of the #GamerGate journalist index called DeepFreeze.it. The #GamerGate site is used by gamers to find out what sort of corruption a journalist has been involved in, and whether or not the outlet they write for is trustworthy and ethical.
Well, journalists have been attacking Elon Musk and the Pravduh initiative ever since it was announced, and now they’re calling it a “GamerGate-style” website that will attempt to curate journalists and publications based on how ethical they are.
A lot of discussion spawned from a tweet that was published on the humid night of May 26th, 2018, when a Vice journalist – and Vice, by the way, was one of the prime targets of #GamerGate back during 2014, and is also an outlet that ended up fostering what former female employees called a “culture of sexual harassment” – William Turton tweeted out the following.
congrats to Elon for starting rich people gamergate https://t.co/KBTezzF2Ii
— William Turton (@WilliamTurton) May 27, 2018
Stan Lee, who is referenced in Turton’s tweet, actually jumped on board with Musk’s idea because he, too, had issues with media spin, claiming that the media fabricated a whole narrative about him and his family that simply was not true. He began posting videos on Twitter to combat the media narrative, but sadly the media’s fabrication had already set itself in stone. Lee, much like Musk, want media outlets to be held accountable for the journalism they publish.
Oddly enough, Congressional hopeful Brianna Wu actually agreed with William Turton, stating that the analogy to #GamerGate was “mostly fair”.
1/ I have some comments on this. The Gamergate analogy is mostly fair.
Gamergate has their own version of Elon Musk’s Pravda, called DeepFreeze. It exists as nothing more than a place to air baseless accusations against journalists, and mostly women. https://t.co/0SII1y54N2
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) May 27, 2018
Stating that Pravduh.com is going to be a “rich people gamergate” isn’t an isolated opinion relegated to Twitter. Apparently other journalists are starting to chime in with similar sentiments as well.
Slate author Matthew Dessem wrote a piece on May 27th, 2018, stating that Musk linked to an article that was taking a “GamerGate-style” approach to media criticism. The exact passage reads…
“The article Musk linked to takes a Gamergate-style approach to media criticism, assigning scientific-sounding “objectivity ratings” to news reports about Musk based on a numerical analysis in four categories: “spin,” “slant,” “logic,” and “data.”
According to Slate, Musk is looking to use this kind of model for Pravduh.com.
This model isn’t entirely too dissimilar from #GamerGate’s own DeepFreeze.it, which uses a number of factors and sources to outline certain failings or shortcomings of journalists in certain key areas of ethical reporting.
For those of you not in the know, #GamerGate was a consumer revolt that started back in August, 2014, which was the culmination of angst within the community concerning unethical behavior by media outlets. The issues originally began rising to the surface seven years before that when game journalist Jeff Gerstmann was fired for giving a mediocre review score to Eidos’ game Kane & Lynch. Since then, distrust and disdain began building up over time, and additional controversies like DoristoGate, as chronicled by Know Your Meme, helped further the rift between journalists and gamers.
However, when gamers attacked the media under the GamerGate hashtag, the media fired back in a coordinated effort to label the movement as a racist, sexist, transphobic harassment campaign. Many of those involved with the coordinated media assault against #GamerGate were actually part of a secret journalist group for many major outlets within the tech industry called the GameJournoPros, which was mirrored after Ezra Klein’s JournoList.
The Verge is one of those outlets still peddling the harassment narrative, and manages to lump in Elon Musk’s efforts with a bunch of other buzzwords and internet communities, including #GamerGate, writing in their piece that was published on May 24th, 2018…
“Pravda is insidious precisely because it would allow its users — or at least its loudest ones — to redefine truth. It would be easy to manipulate because it ignores every lesson we’ve learned about the internet. […]
“[…] This should be common knowledge to anyone who’s lived online for any time at all, including anyone who lived through Gamergate (a group of conspiracy theorists who decided to build a reality where they believed they were investigating “ethics in games journalism” that only happened to harass many women off the internet), Comicsgate (the same thing, only with comics), or incels (“involuntarily celibate” men who feel entitled to sex and have literally killed people over it). It shouldn’t be unfamiliar to Musk, unless he has been too ensconced in his personal bubble of wealth and tech optimism to see it.”
As quoted above, many outlets continue the false claims that #GamerGate is about harassment, even though the FBI report and the WAM! Report indicated that it was not about harassment. And that’s not to mention that there is still no evidence anywhere on file that #GamerGate campaigned to harass women and minorities.
Places like Engadget also chimed in to compare Musk’s efforts with #GamerGate, but instead of calling it a “harassment campaign”, they tried downplaying #GamerGate’s role in its fight for better ethics in media journalism, with author Roberto Baldwin writing in a piece that was published on May 23rd, 2018….
“[…] But going after the free press because they’ve been critical of your company is not how a CEO, visionary or even an adult reacts to criticism and it has real-world consequences. See Pizzagate, Gamergate and really anything that has the word “gate” in it where the tagline is “ethics in journalism.”
So now the narrative appears to be shifting, where journalists are no longer simply calling #GamerGate a harassment campaign, but are stating that it was some kind of danger to traditional media journalism. Some outlets seem to be moving the dial of propaganda by claiming that Elon Musk’s Pravduh will become a “rich”, mainstream version of what #GamerGate set out to achieve.
Now it’s just a matter of time to see how Musk brings Pravduh to life and whether or not it’ll really work as a larger, broader extension of what #GamerGate has already been doing since 2014.
(Thanks for the news tip Jennifer Medina and Mombot)