SXSW Cancels Anti-Harassment Panel Over Threats

SXSW announced yesterday that they were cancelling the anti-Harassment panel “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.” Level Up would have featured the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative‘s Randi Harper alongside Caroline Sinders and Katherine Cross. The panel (according to its official description) would have focused on “online harassment in gaming and geek culture, how to combat it, how to design against it, and how to create online communities that are moving away from harassment.”

Oh, they also cancelled the pro-Gamergate “#SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community,” but we don’t care too much about that.

Organizers cited numerous threats of on-site violence as the primary reason that both panels were cancelled, although they have not released information about these threats (or whether or not they were just about one or both of the panels). Randi Harper posted an image of the email sent to her by organizers:

As Harper points out, while SXSW cites Gamergate in their response, her panel submission never actually mentioned the topic of Gamergate (and as these problems predate the loosely defined movement, it didn’t need to actually directly address it).

The GamerGate panel #SavePoint will still occur independent of SXSW, as they apparently foresaw their possible cancellation. To their credit, they have asked people not blame the SXSW organizers for the decision — although who knows what their reaction would have been if only their panel had been cancelled and not the Anti-Gamergate “Level Up” panel as well.