SXSW responds to criticism after canceling panels about online harassment

The Austin-based festival’s organizers responded swiftly after major media outlets Buzzfeed and Vox Media threatened to boycott the event.

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Now, SXSW is the target of criticism from both sides, and from news outlets planning to cover the annual event.

On Monday, SXSW announced that it had canceled two sessions, titled “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.”

The New York Times further explained:

The two canceled panels were expected to touch on GamerGate, a loosely connected online movement that coalesced to counteract criticism of sexism in video games and game culture. One discussion was to be dedicated to the issue of harassment in game culture, while members of the other panel were GamerGate supporters.

The event’s interactive director, Hugh Forrest, said in a statement that he hoped the panels “would lead to a valuable exchange of ideas on this very important topic.” He then explained why SXSW decided to cancel them:

However, in the seven days since announcing these two sessions, SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming.

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