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SXSW Interactive cancels two panels due to violent threats

Two panels were dropped from the convention's March 2016 schedule due to "numerous threats of on-site violence."

On Monday the 26th, SXSW Interactive announced that they were dropping two panels - "Save Point: A Discussion on the Gaming Community" and "Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games" - from the schedule for their 2016 festival.

In an official statement posted on SXSW's website Hugh Forrest, the SXSW Interactive Director, said:

"We had hoped that hosting these two discussions in March 2016 in Austin would lead to a valuable exchange of ideas on this very important topic.

However, in the seven days since announcing these two sessions, SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming."

Calling the move an instance of "strong community management," Forrest explained that SXSW interactive is a "big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas." But Forrest stressed the need to make sometimes drastic moves to keep the community alive:

"However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.

Social media exploded following the news, with both pro-GamerGate and anti-GamerGate users connecting the canceled panels to the infamous hashtag. So don't expect this thing to blow over anytime soon.

How do you feel about SXSW's decision? Was it a "neutral" solution or not? Is it a solution at all? Let us know in the comments!

Published Oct. 27th 2015
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Couldn't they... you know... get security on premise or something. Or maybe call national law enforcement? I'm pretty sure any legitimate threats toward a company or individuals are considered an act of terrorism (or in the very least a case of planned homicide/violence) according to law.
  • Zanne Nilsson
    Featured Correspondent
    That's exactly how I felt. I suspect they went with the cheapest solution rather than the best one.

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