clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Exclusive: After Gamergate Misstep, SXSW Weighing an All-Day Forum on Online Harassment

SXSW has talked with Vox Media and BuzzFeed about including them in the event.


SXSW festival organizers are considering an all-day event that focuses primarily on combating online harassment, sources told Re/code. An announcement could come before the end of the week.

The planning comes after backlash over the festival organizers’ decision to shut down two panels, one of which was set to address harassment in the tech industry, over threats of violence. Today, two major digital media companies — BuzzFeed and Vox Media* — said they would withdraw from the event unless the panels were reinstated.

Our sources add that SXSW has talked with BuzzFeed and Vox Media about including them in the event. One of the panels, “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games,” has been reinstated. (Update: Though the “Level Up” panel may have been reinstated by the organizers, panelist Randi Harper reached out to clarify that the participants have not yet agreed to speak at SXSW.) It is unclear whether the other panel, which is affiliated with the online misogyny movement Gamergate, will be brought back.

A chief concern for holding such an event would be managing security. In an update today on the SXSW website, SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest wrote that the festival was “working with local law enforcement to assess the various threats received regarding these sessions.” Last October, feminist critic (and Gamergate target) Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk at Utah State University because someone threatened “the deadliest school shooting in American history.” Texas (SXSW is held in its state capital, Austin) has some of the laxest gun control regulations in the country; earlier this year, the state legislature passed a law permitting people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

Vox Media, BuzzFeed and SXSW declined to comment for this story.

* Vox Media is the parent company of Re/code.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.