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Last week the popular media conference South by Southwest (SXSW) announced they would be cancelling two gaming panels following threats they had received regarding both. Following much feedback from various communities, SXSW has announced they will be holding a summit on online harassment March 12th, 2016, livestreaming the content throughout the day.

In the announcement, SXSW says by cancelling the two panels they sent an “unintended message” that they “not only tolerates online harassment but condones it.”  This new summit seems to be an attempt to both salvage the original two panels and address the concerns of online harassment they see as a serious issue. 

The online harassment summit will involve panelists from both of the cancelled panels. From the “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games” panel is Randi Harper, Katherine Cross, and Caroline Sinders. From the “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” panel is Mercedes Carrera, Perry Jones, and Lynn Walsh. 

The nature of the summit doesn’t seem to be completely hammered out yet; however, SXSW is “working with both groups to develop the most productive focus for their appearances.” Given the likely negativity between the two, some balancing and discussion of logistics is probably going to take place.

In addition to those main six, a large list of other speakers have been confirmed for the event:

  • Monika Bickert (Head of Product Policy, Facebook)
  • Soraya Chemaly (Writer/Director, WMC Speech Project)
  • Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts)
  • Wendy Davis (Women’s Rights Advocate; former TX State Senator)
  • Mark DeLoura (VP Technology, formerly with Sony, Nintendo, Google, and White House OSTP)
  • Mary Anne Franks (Law Professor, University of Miami School of Law and Legislative & Tech Policy Director, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative)
  • Jonathan Greenblatt (CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League)
  • Umair Haque (
  • Sarah Jeong (Contributing Editor, Vice Motherboard)
  • Emily May (Co-founder and Executive Director, Hollaback!)
  • Kelly McBride (Vice President of Academic Programs, The Poynter Institute)
  • Shireen Mitchell (Founder, Digital Sisters and Stop Online Violence Against Women)
  • Nika Nour (Director, Communications and Creative Strategies, Internet Association)
  • Meredith L. Patterson (Security Researcher)
  • Joseph Reagle (Northeastern University and Author, “Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web”)
  • Jeffrey Rosen (President & CEO, National Constitution Center)
  • Lee Rowland (Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project)
  • Ari Ezra Waldman (Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School)
  • Brianna Wu (Head of Development, Giant Spacekat)

SXSW says that more presenters will be announced as soon as they are confirmed to be attending, and the speakers may change over time. 

SXSW ended the announcement reaffirming their commitment to helping stand against online harassment and hate speech, as well as their belief that online harassment is a “menace that has often resulted in real world violence; the spread of discrimination; increased mental health issues and self-inflicted physical harm.” They plan to help that problem by providing a space to bring “a diverse range of voices together to facilitate meaningful dialogue in an atmosphere of civility and respect.”

More information on the online harassment summit will be released in the coming weeks.

What do you think of the list of speakers/presenters? Who do you think is missing? What sort of topics should they discuss? 

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.