It’s hard not to have a personal take on this news story, for reasons that will rapidly become obvious. There’s your disclosure, #GamerGate. Choke on it.
I was doxed by 8chan’s infamous /baphomet/ board this week, less than a day after posting an article critical of that site, that board and that practice. Good thing, too - only now do I truly understand how ethics in gaming journalism is done.
It was probably inevitable - that’s the shitty, immature way #GamerGate and 8chan deal with criticism - but I was surprised at how panicked it made me. It’s a violating thing to have your personal information spread by a terror group, and to watch that group discuss how best to ruin your life. Though their intimidation hasn’t worked in the long run - my geographical isolation protects me somewhat from the attacks North American targets are subject to - the first couple hours were terrifying indeed.
What helped immensely, and caused me to burst into tears of joy and relief, was the secret anti-hate-mob task force, made up of survivors of similar harassment, that swooped in to help. That help came in the form of practical advice and emotional support, both of which I desperately craved. The tactics that 8chan’s users and their ilk utilise are new and difficult to understand, and the initial reaction is one of not knowing what to do. Learning this group had my back, and would patiently work with me through my response, was absolutely invaluable.
Now, that group has a name - the Crash Override Network - and after operating in secret for weeks, it’s gone public, to the hilarious uproar of GamerGaters outraged that there actually is a secret SJW army out there somewhere. The group’s volunteer staff will remain anonymous (save for its founders, game developers and early GamerGate targets Zoë Quinn and Alex Lifschitz), but all are survivors of prior or continuing online abuse, and all know what they’re talking about. A tight group of experts in online security, counselling, PR and the law, they’re uniquely suited to dealing with the nebulous, constantly shifting threat of online mobs. Their services are wide-ranging: they’ve already helped many targets of #GamerGate and 8chan, mitigating the effects of attacks and working with law enforcement to prevent SWAT attempts and the like. I can attest to their empathy, efficacy and excellence: they’re good people who have unfortunately had cause to become good at what they do. For me, they turned a spiral of paranoia into a path back to clarity, but for others, where there was more to be done, they’ve done much more.
Upon its launch, Crash Override’s Twitter account was predictably swarmed with a mob of GamerGoats demanding “proof” that the group is helping people (see above) and calling them out as a “scam” (they take in no money) or a “false flag operation” (...what?). It constantly amazes me how desperate GamerGaters seemingly are to demonstrate that groups like Crash Override are necessary.
I’m hoping I don’t have to make many more posts about this stuff. The Crash Override Network isn’t “the” solution, but has the potential to mitigate the damage done, and change the culture from one of fear to one of solidarity and bravery. The bad guys thrive on fear, and if we’re not afraid, they have less to gain from their harassment. So seek help if you need it; if you don’t, speak out against harassers and support others in their attempts to do so. Only by standing up to these bullies will we take them down.