During the harassment and horrors of last year’s GamerGate, the online movement defined by the harassment of female journalists and video game developers in the name of ethics in journalism, it was hard to see any kind of silver lining. But thanks to Zoe Quinn, a 27-year-old independent video game developer who was forced out of her home after her ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni published a 9,000 word blog post about their break up (a blog post that sparked the whole GamerGate ordeal), there may be a bright side to all that nastiness.
Quinn and her partner Alex Lifschitz launched Crash Override, a network dedicating to supporting and protecting the targets of online harassment. The network not only provides targets with emotional support, but also helps them connect with law enforcement and media resources that can help end the harassment. As they say on their site, they tailor their assistance to each specific case — as online harassment is never uniform. Quinn is offering the service, at least at first, for free, drawing on her own experiences with harassment to aid others.
“We are a small group of people working out of pocket and we’re not asking for funding right now,” Quinn told The Guardian. “Which may or may not change down the line based on our needs, so we can’t take every single case.”
Quinn’s partner Lifschitz noted in the same interview that their first goal is to figure out who needs help the most. “We will be assisting people in being able to take care of themselves while putting active priority on very particular cases of relentless and dangerous harassment that we have pre-vetted, while continuing to alert and assist new targets,” Lifschitz said.
And they’ve already helped one of GamerGate’s victims, a web developer named Israel Galvez who was the target of an attempted “swatting,” a practice in which a group calls in false tips to police enforcement in an effort to get a SWAT team dispatched to the victim’s house.
“Crash Override helped me immensely when I was working with police to ensure I would be safe when I was swatted,” Lifschitz told the Guardian.
Thanks, Zoe and Alex! May 2015 be a safer year to be on the Internet for us all. And keep in mind, we now all have someone to reach out to know if we become victims of online attacks.