Naomi “SexyCyborg” Wu Recounts Vice’s Skulduggery
Naomi Wu

In a lengthy Medium piece published way back on August 5th, 2018, content creator Naomi Wu – better known to most people online as SexyCyborg – outlined the fallout between her and Vice’s Motherboard (which has funnily enough been folded into Vice’s main vertical due to poor performance and Vice downsizing). The original tumult took place during the summer of 2018, but a lot of it was obfuscated through misdirection and faux-virtue signaling from the usual suspects, which resulted in the actual facts being buried under a mound of misinformation.

Since Wu still doesn’t feel as if proper resolution was ever brought to the situation, she tweeted out the Medium piece again from last year to put visibility back onto the subject matter and shine some light on Vice’s skulduggery in an attempt to hold them accountable for their actions.

Even though the Medium piece is a year old, it’s still quite relevant for today for as far as putting a spotlight on how unethical a lot of the major news media outlets are.

The short gist of it is that Naomi Wu asked Vice not to talk about her sexual orientation or relationship status in the article, and that said subject matter was off limits. After agreeing to the terms, Vice proceeded to interview Wu through a correspondent, who flew to Shenzhen, China, to meet with the DIY content creator.

Wu shared an image that quoted the e-mail agreement they had, where she set down the ground rules before the interview took place, where she wrote…

“Off limits stuff- I don’t talk about my relationship status or my sexual orientation. Chins is China and it’s a complex issue that is sometimes dealt with in pragmatic ways- and my focus is on other issues. It’s just a lot of trouble here that I don’t need at this point.”

Lo and behold, after the interview took place the correspondent at Vice e-mailed Wu again asking about if they could talk about the rumors from anonymous message boards and random users on Reddit regarding her relationship status and sexual orientation. Wu explained in the Medium piece…

“The Vice reporter returned home to NYC and in the following week began to ask the questions about my personal life it had been agreed were off limits. I was given the “opportunity” to address anonymous 4chan/Reddit speculation about my personal life from the ongoing harassment campaign against me- or look guilty in silence. This is not professional, this is not journalism […]

 

“Even the most basic level of professionalism was too much to ask of Vice- and yet they want to hide behind the title of “journalists” and claim to be above any accountability, when they are nothing of the kind.”

Vice’s prying query carried over into the article from Sarah Emerson, which was published on March 25th, 2018 via Motherboard.

The paragraph covering the topic was short, but still brought up rumors surrounding Wu’s relationship status, where it reads…

“What’s more, her hard-earned success as a creator hasn’t freed her from constantly having to prove her making prowess. In the past few years, she’s been forced to fend off vile and unfounded conspiracy theories on Reddit and 4chan that suggest a white man has masterminded her career. “

Wu was naturally incensed, and tried contacting Vice about how there was supposedly an agreement not to bring up anything related to her relationship status or sexual orientation. It definitely flies in the face of the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics to “minimize harm“.

After receiving the cold shoulder multiple times, Wu explained what lengths she went through in her attempts to contact the editor-in-chief, Jason Koebler, writing…

“I begged them through a series or emails not to do this- to consult with anyone who had ever been a journalist in China and verify what I was telling them. I was then put in touch with the editor-in-chief Jason Koebler. He dismissed it- arrogantly sure he understood the threat model of a Chinese women with a massive social media following who had been outspoken on local gender issues, while at the same time making it absolutely clear he did not understand at all or frankly even care enough to Google what is a routine occurrence in China in these circumstances.”

Attempting to contact Koebler proved fruitless, but not inopportune.

Wu made a short video that flashed Koebler’s dox on a screen on some shoes she modified. She proceeded to send Koebler an e-mail with the video that briefly displayed his dox as a last ditch effort to get Vice to reconsider their position back in late March of 2018.

You might remember that on April 2nd, 2018 Wu made a video about the incident and said that it would be a while before she posted again.

The other video that contained Koebler’s dox was eventually taken down after Vice’s lawyers got involved, and they also had Patreon to shut down Wu’s account, which was recounted by The Federalist’s Helen Raleigh back on August 20th, 2018.

The shoes and display screen she used (but not Koebler’s dox) actually appeared in a later video on her YouTube channel on May 31st, 2018.

She explained that her options for recourse were limited, and she couldn’t manage a visa to travel to America to confront them on their turf, writing…

“Right now, I have no power. Almost every American journalist I contacted for help ignored me. I was told “hire a lawyer” as if I have the means for that. Even when I spoke to American lawyers they said technically the written agreement was not a legal contract so it would be easy for Vice to wriggle out of it- since they have an army of high priced attorneys. I’m just a Chinese girl fighting a huge media empire that does things like this to people every day without consequence. Things like right and wrong don’t matter; they can do anything they like to me. I couldn’t even get a visa to America to fight them. I’d stand in front of their office and shout all day if I could. The message everyone gives me is to simply give up, they are American, they are too big, too rich, too powerful.

 

“But I won’t give up because what they did to me was wrong.”

To further confound matters, Sarah Jeong, the racist writer who now works for the New York Times, jumped in to defend Vice since she used to work there.

One of the reasons a lot of people didn’t initially come to Wu’s support was because the entire conversation became muddied when Jeong – on April 4th, 2018, shortly after the article was published on Motherboard – made a Twitter thread defending the editorial decisions behind the piece.

Jeong uses prevarication and sophistry as obfuscatory tools to dwindle the issue at hand, while also ignoring that Wu had repeatedly requested that her relationship status and sexual orientation not be brought up at all.

Jeong ignores the e-mail exchange where Wu said an interview with Vice would be fine so long as the aforementioned topics weren’t discussed, and Jeong also further muddies the water by blaming Wu for Vice mentioning a topic that Wu asked them not to even bring up at all.

Thankfully a couple of people corrected Jeong on the misconception that this was all Wu’s fault, and they also linked to a South China Morning Post article explaining and detailing why Wu didn’t even want the subject matter spotlighted at all.

Wu attempted to address Jeong about the issue to clarify the misinformation, but Jeong never responded to her direct messages or Twitter posts, essentially making her meddling in the matter little more than a drive-by interception.

Wu wrote…

“Her unprovoked attack was devastatingly effective, Western women all over Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and YouTube comments sections reposted about her “insightful Twitter thread” (of course those flocking to these threads had no pre-existing issues with a whorish looking underweight Asian girl and were not in the least bit eager to have me taken down a peg.)

 

“[…] The support I had previously had in getting Vice to limit the story to what had been agreed on, to treat me the same as the countless DIY men they cover without mention of their personal lives, and to having my Patreon account restored- evaporated.”

 

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According to Wu, she took a short hiatus from YouTube to focus on web development for a while and then eventually managed to score a sponsor for her videos so long as she didn’t talk about any of the previous subjects she used to discuss in her videos that the Chinese State party wouldn’t see as kosher.

Near the end of the lengthy piece she wrote…

“It took me two months before I could start up again, and then only with sponsorship provided by a Chinese tech company and with more strict limits on what I could post. No more nuanced discussion of tech issues on social media- Tor in China, VPNs as a wealth and class filter, gender equality in Chinese tech, MakeEd training for young women- all off-limits now. My income is half of what it was with Patreon and I am not well-off to begin with. The effect this has had on my life, my content, my standard of living- has been devastating and Sarah played no small part in it that.”

She’s now back to regularly posting content on YouTube, including unboxing videos.

This may be an old story in the realm of a media outlet going out of its way to make life hard for a content creator for no other reason than to stir drama, but it’s also a reminder that it’s very easy for people outside of the establishment to lose everything all because a media outlet wants to fish for a few clicks.

(Thanks for the news tip Xia Zeed)

About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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