Shocking Twist: Data Show #GamerGate Is About Harassing Women

Actually It's About Ethics in Game Journalism via @actuallyethics

According to objective data, #GamerGate is not about journalistic ethics. Colour me surprised

Newsweek had Brandwatch analyze 25% of tweets to the GamerGate hashtag. The social media analytics firm looked at 500,000 tweets, going back to the inception of the hashtag. They found that the vast majority of tweets were directed to female developers and game critics, not journalists:

GamerGaters do tweet a lot at the official Kotaku account—more than any individual journalist or editor. That account has been pummeled with 23,500 tweets since September 1. But that number pales in comparison to the tweets received by Brianna Wu, another female game developer who has spoken out against GamerGate, and Anita Sarkeesian, who has been a vocal critic of sexism in gaming. 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.

Let’s break that down visually, so it can really sink in:

Brandwatch infographic via Newsweek
Brandwatch infographic via Newsweek

Thank you Newsweek, for spelling out so clearly what we already knew. It’s about harassment of women in gaming.

Megan Purdy

Megan Purdy

Publisher of all this. Megan was born in Toronto. She's still there. Philosopher, space vampire, heart of a killer.

9 thoughts on “Shocking Twist: Data Show #GamerGate Is About Harassing Women

  1. Very few people that work with big data, social media analysis, or even population statistics, were onimpressed with the work.
    In fact, had this been a peer-reviewed research paper, it would have been panned as a fishing expedition, if you read the original Newsweek article, to reached their conclusions, they have to narrow the original dataset into narrower and more arbitrary constraints to find a narrative. Any veteran data scientists knows that many of those constraints could have been selected from the beginning, which leads that the initial data set (which is suspect, because it isn’t a random sample) was tortured until it confessed a crime, any crime.
    I could also be mere incompetence or lack or experience. Newsweek wanted to have a data story, while #gamergate was trending and the hired Brandwatch, that has the technical expertise in “Brand Management”, but failed miserably outside their area of expertise.

    1. I wouldn’t consider the deluge of constant tweets aimed at these women as neutral in their effect – that kind of non-stop demand for them to engage in debate may be neutral in sentiment but it is unmanageable in scale, and overall very exhausting to deal with. Meanwhile, they were still receiving a significant amount of death & rape threats. Despite the negative tweets being less than 10% overall, I highly doubt that diminishes the effect it has had on them and their opinion of the GamerGate “movement”.

      Here is a statistic I’ve garnered from that Medium piece: approximately 0% of that article is spent specifically condemning the vitriol being spewed at these women. But this is about ethics in gaming journalism, right?

      1. I’d add that we can’t necessarily consider tweets that lack overt positive or negative sentiment neutral, not when so many are prompted by other GGs calling them to action. And not when it’s common to see neutral tweets in response to women talking about how hurt they’be been by GG. I’ve seen women, and some men, make heartbreaking statements on Twitter about GG, only to be told that “actually, it’s about ethics in game journalism.” By twenty-odd people. Pile ons and demands that critics “prove it prove it prove it prove it” are tactics in of themselves. Those “neutral” tweets could use closer attention.

      2. Even accepting your point, it is still showing that the overwhelming majority of PEOPLE involved believe that it is about ethics in journalism and are civil even if pushy.

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