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74,140 reasons that #GamerGate isn't about the ethics of journalism

A man types on his computer
A man types on his computer
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Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

One of the big points of contention in the conversation around #GamerGate — the increasingly toxic movement that wants to "change" the video game industry — is to what extent it's about retrograde gender politics and to what extent it's about ethical standards in video game journalism.

When Brianna Wu, a video game designer, fled her home earlier this month because of death threats, Gaters said that the movement was about "the ethics of journalism." When  Anita Sarkeesian canceled her upcoming talk at Utah State University because of threats against her life, Gaters said their movement is really about "ethics of journalism." And when Felicia Day's home address and other personal information was doxxed after she voiced her concern about the ugliness that Gaters she's witnessed and the hope that a respectful community could be restored, we again heard about the "ethics of journalism."

It's clear that Gaters want to get this message of ethics and journalism circulating. But what Gaters don't seem as enthused to share —  besides the threats against these women's lives — is the constant attacks these women are facing. Newsweek with the help of social media analytics company Brandwatch analyzed the tweets — where #GamerGate lives — these women were getting, and found that they are receiving more tweets than people who #GamerGate says they're attacking:

Sarkeesian has been bombarded with 35,188 tweets since September 1, while Wu has gotten 38,952 in the same time period. Combined, these two women have gotten more tweets on the #GamerGate hashtag than all the games journalists Newsweek looked at combined. And, again, neither of them has committed any supposed "ethics" violations. They're just women who disagree with #GamerGate.

Newsweek goes on to explain that the tweets Wu and Sarkeesian received were more negative in tone. This bolsters what New York's Jessie Singal found. After being told over and over that the misogynistic attacks were the exception, not the norm of #GamerGate, Singal went searching online into the forums to find the "journalistic" guts of the movement. His search merely confirmed that this movement is laser-focused on attacking these women.

When I visited KIA [the Kotaku in Action forum] on Sunday, for example - again, the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real Gamergate - three of the top six posts were about the indie developer Brianna Wu (a subject of harassment and threats), the feminist commentator Anita Sarkeesian (ditto), or the "social-justice warriors" (SJWs) that Gamergaters love to ridicule for polluting gaming with their "radical" ideas.

If the pattern fits, Gaters will again say that tweets sent to Wu and Sarkeesian are really about the "ethics in journalism"— even though there are 74,140 reasons to believe otherwise.