#GamerGate is a consumer revolt about the unethical and corrupt practices in media. It started with a fight against the corrupt practices of games media but seems to have evolved into a fight against the corrupt practices of mainstream media, too. The stance of fighting corruption that #GamerGate has firmly planted its feet in the ground face down against has been misrepresented and miscommunicated by the media, from small blogs to the medium sized gaming websites, all the way up to mainstream TV media and news radio. Well, one mega-company has realized the err of their ways and has reneged on their position of damning consumers who are revolting under the hashtag of #GamerGate.
Back on October 31st, 2014 Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox browser, allowed author Audrew Watters to use their Open Standard platform to write an opinionated hit-piece on #GamerGate called “Yes, #Gamergate is an Ed-Tech Issue”.
The article charged the revolt as being one and the same with “meritocracy misogyny”. A problem that allegedly persists in the STEM fields.
Like the many hit pieces published previously, there is no evidence or facts that even suggests that #GamerGate is associated with harassment or abuse, but that’s the narrative pushed by the piece, regardless.
The piece caused Mozilla to catch quite a bit of ire from the gaming community and incensed consumers who have been rising up against the media giants of yellow journalism. This resulted in a conversation where those in #GamerGate convinced Mozilla to offer an opposing view (something most media outlets have refused to do). Mozilla was nice enough to have female tech contributor for sites like GameSided and TechRaptor, Georgina Young, to pen a piece that explained the issue of #GamerGate from a more well-rounded and expanded view. It was a fair-minded piece called “Yes, #GamerGate is Everyone’s Issue”.
Watters and Young’s articles have both been removed from Mozilla’s Open Standard platform.
The company posted an apology of sorts, with Open Standard editor-in-chief Anthony Duignan-Cabrera writing a brief mea culpa, saying…
“We posted an opinion by Audrey Watters who wanted to illustrate that the misogyny we read about in the tech industry has its roots in education and that these issues need to be addressed.
“In the wake of the tremendous response we received from that article, we offered people the opportunity to write a rebuttal through our commenting section and social media, where we had also promoted the article.
“We fueled a conversation that will not have a positive outcome. The columns and comments related to the topic were not a reflection of Mozilla, but of The Open Standard and our mission to try and understand issues like this and to better communicate those ideas to the broader public.
“The Open Standard does not support shouting down people that we don’t agree with; we believe you attack the argument, not the person. We got it wrong this time and for that, you have my sincerest apologies.”
It was at least honorable to remove both articles instead of punishing either Young or Watters by keeping one and/or deleting the other. If you’re not going to be fair, it’s best not to enter the conversation at all.
According to The Verge, Duignan-Cabrera’s public apology wasn’t enough. Executive chairwoman of Mozilla, Mitchell Baker, sent out a company-wide letter to admonish the Open Standard for wading into a war with poor planning and unpreparedness, writing…
“Recent opinion pieces published in The Open Standard about #Gamergate are a mistake, compounded by our follow-up actions.
“The editorial intent of The Open Standard is to explore the world of open collaboration. It is not intended to represent Mozilla's opinion, but to be an independent platform where we invite people to have discussions around timely topics related to the impact of open systems. #Gamergate as a topic does not make sense for The Open Standard.”
Baker makes it known that the topic was too much for an up-and-coming platform like the Open Standard and that better attention, direction and leadership would be required moving forward when covering socially explosive topics like #GamerGate.
Better an apology than a biased article. It’s at least good Mozilla decided to step out of the debate altogether. A neutral friend or a silent enemy is better than a loud antagonist.
That’s not to mention that plenty of individuals sent Mozilla word that they would stop using the browser if they continued a one-sided attack against #GamerGate. At the end of the day, the consumer always wins… no matter how long it takes.