Brianna Wu and Online Harassment

Brianna Wu:

The week before last, I went to court to file a restraining order against a man who calls himself “The Commander.” He made a video holding up a knife, explaining how he’ll murder me “Assassin’s Creed Style.” He wrecked his car en route to my house to “deliver justice.” In logs that leaked, he claimed to have weapons and a compatriot to do a drive-by.

After the crash, he sent me a deranged video that Jezebel called “bizarre” and “terrifying.” Sam Biddle of Gawker said that if this happened to him, he’d be “locked in a closet rocking back and forth.” For me, it’s just another Tuesday. My capacity to feel fear has worn out, as if it’s a muscle that can do no more.

This is not just a problem of a bunch of angry, frustrated kids, letting out their frustration on people they probably feel jealous of. There are actual adults in positions of power who contribute to the problem. Wu writes:

When Twitter is completely ineffectual at handling harassment — it’s because women don’t truly have a seat at the table in running it. We don’t have a voice. They tell us they’re going to do better.

When Wikipedia’s highest ruling board chooses to discipline only feminists — it’s because 9 out of 10 of its editors are men. They tell us they’re going to do better.

When a Silicon Valley founder sends a woman reporter a gift basket with a dildo and K-Y jelly then doesn’t understand why it might be offensive, it’s because most of the venture capital system and the tech entrepreneurs are men. We don’t have a voice. They tell us they’re going to do better.

Amazingly, the field of video games is the most misogynistic area in all of tech. The lead writer of Ubisoft’s hit franchise Watch Dogs angrily denied that Gamergate was a hate group, calling such statements a “smear tactic” and an “obvious lie.”

In related news, Wu’s game, Revolution 60, was put up on Steam Greenlight, where gamers vote on games to be made available in Steam — basically the only Windows online games store that matters. It’s no longer available, because, predictably, people used the game’s greenlight page to attack Brianna Wu. It should be noted that Steam’s online conduct rules include this:

You will not: Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.

Steam’s subscriber agreement allows them to terminate the accounts of users who violate these rules. As far as I know, Steam has done absolutely nothing about this.

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