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Game developer Zoe Quinn speaks in Congressional briefing about online abuse

Game developer Zoe Quinn speaks in Congressional briefing about online abuse

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With the violent abuse women often face online now firmly rooted in public consciousness, Zoe Quinn, the developer of Depression Quest and GamerGate's first target, has helped bring the issue to Washington. In a congressional briefing broadcast on Periscope, Quinn and her fellow speakers addressed the ongoing problems of cyberstalking, revenge porn, doxxing, and crowdsourced hate, while reiterating some solutions for solving them.

Today's briefing was held by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and the National Organization for Women, in partnership with Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark. Quinn, who has been outspoken in her criticism of GamerGate despite subsequent rape and death threats, spoke about how the difficulty that comes with speaking out against abuse. "It’s difficult to speak out if you don’t have the support to speak out," she said. The developer has already pushed to make it easier for victims of abuse to press the issue, launching Crash Override, an anti-abuse task force, earlier this year.

"It's difficult to speak out if you don't have the support to speak out."

Quinn was joined by three other experts in the field: Michelle Garcia, director of the Stalking Resource Center; John Wilkinson, attorney advisor at AEquitas: The Prosecutors' Resource on Violence Against Women; and Danielle Keats Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. The conversation touched on a variety of topics, including the conviction of revenge porn site operator Kevin Bollaert earlier this month. Keats Citron, who in a Vox interview argued that the online harassment of women is now a civil rights issue, stated that she's looking for retooled laws that criminalize breaches of confidence, a much stronger charge than the breaches of copyright that forced Reddit to move against last summer's massive nude picture leak.

Quinn, along with other prominent critics like Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, has helped push conversations about online harassment mainstream, forcing the GamerGate movement back to the fringes. Critics did manage to hijack the briefing's hashtag, #StopWebH8, but hopefully gaining the attention of lawmakers in Congress matters more than internet invective.