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Game developer and anti-harassment figure Brianna Wu will run for Congress

Shannon Grant

Brianna Wu, a Boston-based game developer known for her opposition to online harassment, has said she’s planning to run for a House of Representatives seat in 2018. While Wu hasn’t officially started a campaign, she posted a promotional Facebook picture indicating that she would run, and confirmed her intentions in a statement to VentureBeat. Her policy platform will include an emphasis on women’s rights and “a bolder Democratic party” that addresses the gap between supporters of mainline Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and more left-leaning primary candidate Bernie Sanders.

“Hillary [Clinton] ran a brave marathon, and now it’s time for women of my generation to pick up that baton and commit to public service,” Wu told VentureBeat. “I didn’t personally support Sanders in the primary, but he tapped into a very powerful disconnect between our party’s leadership and our base. We want leaders that will fight for us, and all too often the Democrats don’t stand up to the fringe extreme of the Republican Party.”

It begins.

Posted by Brianna Wu on Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wu, who co-founded game studio Giant Spacekat in 2010, became widely known during the 2014 rise of the online reactionary movement Gamergate, during which she was both a frequent target for threats and a prominent opponent of both Gamergate and online harassment. “When I started speaking out about harassment, I thought something would change. But it hasn't — every single system failed us,” Wu wrote on Twitter earlier today. “We're getting diminishing returns on writing and speaking out about harassment. I think next step is running for office and passing laws.” She referenced a recent Washington Post article by journalist Sarah Jeong, who has drawn connections between Gamergate-related harassment and the present-day “alt-right” white nationalist movement, as well as the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.

Before this week’s announcement, Wu’s story had already influenced the work of Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA), one of Wu’s state representatives. (On Twitter, Wu said she would “never” run against Clark.) Clark has urged the FBI to take online threats and harassment more seriously, and has sponsored bills cracking down on swatting tactics and sexual extortion, among other issues. So far, neither bill has come to a vote on the House floor.