Brianna Wu and GamerGate

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Brianna Wu is by far best-known for her opposition to GamerGate. To hear Brianna Wu tell it, she is one of its most high-profile targets, the victim of a protracted and concerted harassment campaign intended to undermine her and chase her out of "the industry." Towards this end, Brianna Wu has cultivated an online presence using her Social Media accounts specifically intended to leverage her harassment for her own gain, whether trying to gain donations to pay for her "Twitter handler" who may or may not actually exist, angling for more influence than she already has, or simply portraying herself as one of the most oppressed victims on the internet.

The image in this tweet is real. This actually happened.

When it comes to this tactic, Brianna Wu has absolutely no shame. She will lie, extort, and use every single asset she has to push her agenda, even when it makes absolutely no sense or ultimately makes her look worse in the long run. It is her ongoing attempts to "use" GamerGate as a launching point for her career that caused her to be relentlessly pursued by third-party trolls (which Brianna Wu also tried to, and ultimately failed to exploit), and, when this was insufficient, harassing herself and then trying to blame it on GamerGate - only to be caught in the attempt and look like a fool.

Ironically enough, Brianna Wu is not terribly well-liked by her fellow GamerGate opponents - if not outright despised. She publicly had it out with Zoe Quinn in the past for claiming she had been the single most-harassed individual by GamerGate, and despite constantly talking up her fellows at talks and speaking engagements, Brianna Wu is often considered, by her own side, to be more of a hindrance than an asset, due to her duplicitous nature and her constant willingness to jump at bait, no matter how obvious. She has single-handedly caused multiple people to abandon her side due to the tactics she's willing to use - since she's been willing to openly harass, threaten, and abuse people - and is widely-regarded as being the least credible prominent individual in GamerGate's opposition.

As GamerGate came and went, Wu struggled, desperately, to keep herself in the public eye, despite never having accomplished anything of real note. With her only marketably useful skill being to go on shows and talk about how she's the world's biggest victim and complaining about privilege, Brianna Wu's relevance has been fading for some time, but she continues to go on at length about GamerGate, blaming the hashtag consumer revolt for everything from institutionalized racism to her own terrible reputation on Twitter. Even 2 years after the consumer hashtag stopped being relevant, Brianna Wu has continued to desperately try to cling to it as the source of all of her woes.[1]

Brianna Wu's Harassment

As a cultural critic, vocal commentator, and someone who essentially has based her entire career over a consumer hashtag revolt that wound down in 2015, it should come as no surprise that Brianna Wu's primary involvement with GamerGate is claiming to be its perpetual victim, often declaring that she has been subjected to systemic and ongoing harassment campaigns from the hashtag, despite all evidence showing that they had nothing to do with her until she spent two weeks antagonizing the hashtag's supporters. Ironically, it's Brianna Wu's attempt to bait and exploit such harassment that led to her being the target of trolls online.

What Brianna Wu considers harassment is a pretty broad spectrum...

While it's lamentable that Brianna Wu has been accosted online, and while she has gotten actual harassment, it is patently obvious that Brianna Wu cares far more about cultivating her own personal victimhood than she does about actually stopping harassment. Between being willing to drum up discredited attempts by third-party trolls (Jace Connors, for example), manufacturing her own harassment outright (such as the The Steam Incident), and going directly against what she was actually told to do by law enforcement about her trolls, Brianna Wu clearly had an agenda to fill from the get-go and had zero intent of doing anything but cynically manipulate the situation to her own ends. Despite there being existing laws against actual harassment, and there being actual laws on the books against death threats, it is never enough, and Brianna Wu will constantly say she needs yet more power and yet more protection against threats, even when she's obviously sensationalizing.[2]

Brianna Wu as a Harasser

Ironically for someone who claims at all times to be an innocent victim, Brianna Wu is anything but. Indeed, many are the times she has gotten caught indulging in the exact same practices she declares her enemies to be guilty of (and worse). In many cases, Brianna Wu's attempts to portray her opposition as monstrous shows an enormous amount of projection, as she is just as willing to engage in harassment, threats, and brigading as the online trolls she so bemoans. Whether conducting campaigns to "de-platform" opponents, intentionally misconstruing data, or conflating otherwise sound advice as an attempt to belittle her, Brianna Wu will always act as if she were innocent of wrongdoing, even if she is caught in the act.

Wu accuses people giving advice of being misogynists.

Brianna's campaigns of harassment are a longstanding development that she has, over the years, become infamous for. When she was still on the Susan's Place forums, Wu tended to run the site like her own private domain and actively belittle anyone that disagreed with her, a situation that snowballed until she was banned from the site. Similar occurred when she was placed in a mod position of /r/GamerGhazi, a GamerGate-opposing subreddit. When Brianna Wu attempted to milk the Jace Connors Incident for attention, she was called out for falling for an obvious scam by the board's membership, who rightly pointed out that Jace was not a serious threat. Rather than accept she was wrong, Brianna Wu, banning those who pointed out that Jace was harmless. Wu has a well-known reptuation of being openly willing to silence anyone critical of her; this has included arguing that conventions she attends should blacklist people she disapproves of, arguing she deserves personal security staff because she is at risk, and most notably, using her connections to Twitter support to get people who bring up this wiki Article sanctioned or banned. Brianna Wu takes this a step further; she maintains McCarthy-esque lists of "known transphobes," accusing them of being hatemongers with no evidence or oversight.[3] If she were just another user on Twitter, this would simply be humorous; because of her personal ties to Social Media staff, Brianna Wu is eminently capable of leveraging influence against those who displease her.

Overview

Below is a general Breakdown of Brianna Wu's involvement with GamerGate.

Pre-GamerGate

Brianna Wu was a virtual unknown on Twitter prior to GamerGate. A simple breakdown of Wu's posting history on Twitter shows that she first joined on November 8, 2008,[4] and that she made no tweets whatsoever for almost a year, when she made a post on July 25, 2009.[5]

Three and a half years later - by January 13th, 2013[6] - Brianna Wu had less than seventy followers and just under 500 tweets. Roughly one year after this (and less five months after GamerGate started), by January 22nd, 2014, Brianna Wu had 652 followers after 2,532 tweets.[7] Three months after this, by March 14th, 2014, she was up another 140 to 792 after roughly 1300 more tweets.[8]

Over the next four months, Wu's infamous Twitter addiction - and her infamous attempts to repeatedly milk the GamerGate controversy - really began to take hold. As of July 8th, 2014, just before said Controversy broke, she had more than tripled her number of tweets to 12,235 in about four months.[9]

By September 12, 2014, before Brianna's infamous self-doxxing and death threat hoaxes, she had over 7,600 followers and over 22,000 tweets. This was after Brianna Wu had spent almost four months trolling the chans to drum up support for Revolution 60.[10] One year later, September 23rd, 2015, Brianna Wu had over 44,000 Followers and over 50,000 Tweets. This was despite shedding hundreds of them a week due to blocking any that dare criticize or question her about anything.

Progression

Well before GamerGate ever occurred, Brianna Wu was involved with many of the individuals who would ultimately cause it, such as Leigh Alexander, Patricia Henandez, and Ben Kuchera.[11] In addition to covering her game, Brianna Wu had written for their publications in the past.[12] Several of these individuals had also covered Wu in some other capacity.[13][14][15][16] Wu was also extensively covered by Polygon, an outfit that routinely would go on to attack the consumer hashtag revolt when it was in full swing.[17][18][19][20]

In many ways, Brianna Wu was a good example of what GamerGate essentially formed to fight - someone who literally was only in the video game industry because of her connections, despite accomplishing absolutely nothing of substance or note. Her recently-released game, Revolution 60, was a dismal failure and failed to get beyond 834th place in the IOS game sales charts, placing it well behind an arsenal of Flappy Bird clones and Angry Birds ripoffs.

Brianna Wu engaging in open sockpuppeting, which she had already accused GamerGate of multiple times.

With her game suffering, Brianna Wu made many attempts to promote it on Social Media, but nothing really clicked. The game just didn't catch on due to being terribly optimized and looking extremely slipshod. Lacking better options, Brianna and Frank Wu began to try to viral market the game on various Social Media platforms, ranging from Tumblr and Twitter to 4chan.

When GamerGate occurred, Brianna Wu saw an opportunity, and immediately attempted to use the controversy to her own ends, immediately doing what she could to antagonize the campaign's supporters.[21][22] She also argued that accosting the hashtag campaign's supporters was justified.[23]

Fittingly, Brianna Wu was outright dismissive of any legitimate claims by the campaign's supporters, and, in a nod towards her previous behavior on the Susan's Place forums, openly belittled anyone who disagreed with her on Twitter.[24] Unfortunately for Brianna Wu, people were more than used to seeing such a tactic on Social Media by now, and Brianna Wu ultimately found herself with little real "harassment" to exploit. With this in mind, she began to go to further extremes, such as using an obvious sockpuppet account, known as "Drake Harper," AKA @BROLOLZ, to spam fake GamerGate tweets.[25] When people called her out on her hypocrisy, her response was that people were simply too stupid to see her brilliant satire.[26]

Further, she would go on to encourage her followers to join her in annoying supporters of the hashtag.[27] She likewise was quick to try to use the ongoing controversy to drum up hype for her game, Revolution 60, stating that Gamergate supporters were "actively damaging her development studio.[28] In the extreme short term, this actually worked, pushing the game back into the top thousand for a time, but the bounce was short-lived and ultimately the game dropped back below the radar in short order.

Key to Brianna Wu's involvement with both Zoe Quinn and the above journalists involved in the controversy was Katherine Cross, the individual who essentially served as a go-between with Zoe Quinn's clique and Feminist Frequency. [29] Cross was the one who initially brought Wu into the fold, hoping that due to her connections, she would prove useful, but this ultimately backfired as Brianna Wu proved to be a magnet for controversy. Within two months, she had completely exhausted any goodwill she had built up with the clique with her shameless attempts to bait harassment (which made GamerGate's opposition as a whole look bad), and by December, she was considered persona non grata in their circles, actively distancing themselves from her.

Within a year, Brianna Wu had become so toxic to her own side and so good at unintentionally discrediting her associates that they actively began to hedge her out of their business. Brianna Wu was not, for example, one of the individuals who got to speak at the UN, and Zoe Quinn and Randi Harper held Brianna Wu in outright contempt. Her grip within the movement quickly withered away, and within a year, Brianna Wu and her accomplice, Maddy Myers, at one point both mods on /r/Gamerghazi, were both demodded and banned,[30][31] the pair trying to play it off as them having been banned for wanting GamerGhazi to have more "adult conversations" and make the sort of "editorial decisions" she makes on her Twitter everyday.[32]

Brianna Wu vs. Fredrick "Hotwheels" Brennan

As GamerGate progressed, and Brianna Wu garnered a reptuation for herself as a sensationalizer, a unique opportunity popped up that she was quick to capitalize upon. Zoe Quinn had agreed to an interview on the Huffington Post, but when Quinn learned that the head of 8chan (a platform largely supportive of GamerGate), Fredrick "Hotwheel" Brennan, was also going to be there, and that the event was to be a debate, not a solo interview, Zoe Quinn flat-out refused to show. Siezing on the opportunity, Brianna Wu made herself available and agreed to go in Quinn's Stead.

It did not end well.[33]

Despite the moderator for the debate being actively hostile towards Brennan and Brianna herself pushing her never-ending victimhood angle, Brianna Wu ultimately looked worse by the debate's end, coming across as visibly unstable, allthewhile showing surprising capacity for doublethink, calling the response to her now-notorious Oppressed GamerGate Meme "harassment" and "oppression." She pitched into a lengthy argument about how 8chan was directly responsible for attacks on her, despite possessing no proof of this. During the debate itself, Brianna was visibly huffing and puffing whenever Brennan had the chance to speak, apparently so completely unwilling to tolerate a dissenting opinion for more than 30 seconds at a stretch that she came across as a lunatic.

When Brennan brought up that his website (which Wu was attempting to proclaim as "nothing but a hate site" and dedicated to her personal destruction) was protected by the Communications Decency Act, specifically Section 230,[34] Wu launched into a completely unrelated tirade about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and proceeded to essentially openly insult him about his knowledge of the law - despite being completely in the wrong. All in all, Wu came across as both aggressive and insane, something that would come into full view as time went on.

Brianna Wu on the David Pakman Show

Brianna Wu did not take kindly to being actually questioned about things.

Brianna Wu, eager to push her ongoing harassment narrative, agreed to be interviewed by David Pakman, a respected journalist, on October 27th, 2014.[35] During the interview, Wu clearly expected to be pitched softball questions and/or that Pakman would not ask her to elaborate on anything she said. This is not what happened and Brianna Wu wound up stumbling on her arguments, often pinballing between multiple things she was annoyed about and simultaneously blaming both GamerGate and "The Industry" for her harassment. Brianna Wu failed to give specific examples for many of her criticisms and rather notably relied on both logical fallacies and unsourced anecdotes.

The interview was ultimately hallmarked by Pakman being more than fair to Wu, and giving her ample opportunity to expound upon her feelings and beliefs, only for Brianna Wu to accuse the journalist of formulating a "hit piece" on Brianna and that she felt that she was "on trial." The interview quickly became an overnight meme amongst Brianna's critics, and Brianna Wu responded in the way she is accustomed, taking to twitter to accuse Pakman of being openly biased in actually asking her questions. Suffice to say, Brianna's supporters quickly mobbed the unsuspecting journalist, pillorying him, accusing him of enabling Brianna Wu's harassment for money,[36] and later allegedly subjecting his show to a Denial of Service Attack, though it lasted only a few hours.[37]


References

  1. Brianna Wu's Twitter - GamerGate is Ongoing For Me
  2. Columbus Biz Journal - Prosecutor never notified of Death Threats
  3. Brianna Wu's Twitter - List of Transphobes
  4. Twitter Birthday - Brianna Wu's Twitter Account Birth Certificate
  5. FirstTweet - Brianna Wu's First Tweet
  6. Brianna Wu's Twitter - January 13th, 2013
  7. Brianna Wu's Twitter - January 22nd, 2014
  8. Brianna Wu's Twitter - March 14th, 2014
  9. Brianna Wu's Twitter - July 8th, 2014
  10. Brianna Wu's Twitter - September 12th, 2014
  11. Ralph Retort - A Collection of Pre-Gamergate Brianna Wu Involvement
  12. Polygon - No Skin Thick Enough: An Op-Ed by Brianna Wu
  13. Gamasutra - How Today's Game Devs Come To Terms With Self-Promotion
  14. Polygon - But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don'ts to Combat Online Sexism
  15. Gamasutra - More Women Making Games, but Men Still Dominate Industry
  16. Gamasutra - This Week in Video Game Criticism: The Speed Racer of Games
  17. Polygon - The Passion of the Checkpoint: Why Gaming's most Frustrating Failure is so Hard to Fix
  18. Polygon - Boston Festival of Indie Games now accepting art and game submissions
  19. Polygon - Tackle sexism and gender inequality in games by speaking up, panel says (update)
  20. Polygon - A Card Game That Teaches Cat-Callers to Stop Being Pigs
  21. Brianna Wu's Twitter - All Gamergaters Are Sockpuppets or White Males
  22. Brianna Wu's Twitter - Gamergate is Misogyny
  23. Brianna Wu's Twitter - We Should Harass Gamergaters
  24. Brianna Wu's Twitter - A Page of No-Context Posts About Gamergate
  25. Drake Harper's Twitter - Brololz Introduction and Archive
  26. Brianna Wu's Twitter - Brololz is Satire and You Are Dumb
  27. Brianna Wu's Twitter - Brianna Encourages a Penis Joke
  28. Brianna Wu's Twitter - Gamergate is Harming My Studio
  29. Ralph Retort - A Collection of Pre-Gamergate Brianna Wu Involvement
  30. Ralph Retort - Wu Booted by GamerGhazi
  31. KotakuInAction - Wu DeModded!!
  32. Youtube - Mattie Meyers and Brianna Wu conference - Isometric 054: People Can Be Hurt
  33. Huffington Post Interview: Brianna Wu and Fredrick "Hotwheels" Brennan
  34. Wikipedia - Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  35. David Pakman Show - Brianna Wu Interview
  36. Joyintorah18's Twitter - Pakman Enables Bullies
  37. David Pakman's Twitter - Our Site is Down