GamerGate and Deepfreeze – What it Really Says

Freeze
I’ve been seeing a little blowback on my recent post about the site deepfreeze.it. What’s interesting is that none of it is here on this site. It’s people across social media (Twitter specifically)that believe somehow this site is going to force gaming journalists to become “ethical”. I disagree.

What does this blacklist, as I refer to it, actually accomplish? Placing names, employers, and grievances (supposed violations) looks like an actual witch hunt, not unlike, as I mentioned before, the A+ Blockbot or even the GGBlockbot whose only criteria is that those entered follow the “wrong” people online.

Let’s take a quick look at the About page for the site. Under the first heading, the second paragraph reads:

DeepFreeze strives, whenever possible, for maximum objectivity — supplying factual information so that readers can form an opinion on their own.(Emphasis, mine)

Whenever possible? That means, at least to me that there might be information included in an entry that is only rumor or speculation. Hardly objective.

Under “Criteria and Emblems” is the more troubling statement:

Entries don‘t necessarily represent ethical improprieties — they might represent a strong appearance of impropriety, or even unprofessional actions that are not strictly breaches of journalistic ethics. (Again, emphasis mine)

So, in other words, rumors and speculation are valid. Someone’s opinion of an “appearance of impropriety” qualifies as an entry. Really looks like the A+ Bockbot more and more to me. It also lends credence what I was said about this list being retributive: Vengeance directed toward writers that may not have written favorably about GamerGate. That entire paragraph will by itself become a siren call to those anti-GamerGate people who’ve said that GamerGate was never about “ethics in journalism”.

In fact, look under some of the “Emblems”:

Censorship: Evidence or strong appearance of malicious or unjustified denial of coverage to a subject deserving of it.

Deserving of coverage by whom? By not covering a subject, how is that malicious? Nonsense.

Dishonesty: Lies, direct or by omission.

Who’re the arbiters of what is a lie? Because someone doesn’t like what’s written (or not written) is that automatically a lie? Is it possible that what’s perceived as a lie actually has nothing to do with the article? Something someone thought was important many not be to the overall thrust of the article.

Harassment: Abuse of one’s position of power — mostly, but not strictly, one’s journalistic platform or social media following — to attack, intimidate, shame, libel a person or group.

This looks like where the vengeance comes in for those that wrote saying “Gamers are Over”, etc. Again, with the caveats that this may not be a lapse in journalistic ethics by including what I bolded above. If it has nothing to do with an article, why include it? Don’t these people have a right to their personal opinions on any social media platform? If it doesn’t affect their objectivity in their profession, why would anyone really care? After all, it’s about journalistic ethics, right? Not about someone’s personal opinion. Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Not a pretty picture so far.

So let me summarize here for clarity. Whenever possible we’ll be accurate in what is posted about an individual. The entries made may or may not have anything to do with journalistic ethics. If we don’t like that a subject we were interested in wasn’t covered you’re on the list. If we don’t like what you write, it may be considered a lie. You attacked gamers as a group, therefore, back at ya!

Doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to do with “Ethics in Journalism”, does it?

5 thoughts on “GamerGate and Deepfreeze – What it Really Says

  1. You are making the mistake of criticizing journalism by its stated goals rather than its contemporary incarnation. Today that includes endless opinion pieces by people who are little more than glorified bloggers, a publish-first-then-correct-later attitude and a dearth of on-the-ground investigation and critical review. It is no surprise then that a catalogue of journalistic behavior would be a tangled mess of people with their fingers in many pies.

    The difference between Blockbot and DeepFreeze is night and day. DeepFreeze is a repository of sourced information, it is carefully curated. Being listed on DeepFreeze does nothing by itself.

    Meanwhile the Blockbot’s promise is to automatically keep your feed clear of the worst harassers, identified and tagged. Yet what they actually do is identify and block entire networks of real people based on nothing but guilt by association. The users who subscribe to the block list don’t know what they don’t see, which is a mass of reasonable people trying to be heard with a minority of trouble makers beside it. Worse, if they stop using the blockbot, the blocks don’t go away. That’s over 10,000 accounts that were silenced blindly. Real trolls use disposable accounts anyway, the blockbot’s stated premise is deceptive.

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    • First of all, on the matter of the blockbot, you’re both wrong. Its function is to keep people’s feed clear of harassment – harassment on Twitter, by its nature, does not come from only ‘the worst’ individuals but from ‘entire networks’ of people who behave like a swarm. This is partly because of how Twitter is set up, and partly because GG and other related ‘pressure groups’ operate on a strength-in-numbers mentality, using hashtags as a klaxon to call in their friends.

      It’s therefore entirely justified that the Blockbot should block these networks and identify those belonging to those networks as participants in harassment. A version that only blocked lone wolf aggressors would be ineffective in keeping out general haranguing, not to mention the kind of passive aggressive onslaughts that GGers like to frame as ‘polite debate’.

      Your ‘punishment’ for being caught by the Blockbot is not severe, or even properly a punishment. It merely prevents you from communicating with those individuals who do not want to be contacted by people in the GG network.

      The irony is that if Gamergate itself had used a Blockbot to begin with – created a tool to make sure its angry members did not have to hear anything or read anything by the journalists and activists they hate – this would have been an entirely proper and productive way to defuse that tension. The idea never occurred to GG because most of its members are not interested in merely avoiding the kind of activism they don’t like – they want instead to ‘defeat’ (ie. censor) those opinions so that no one else can hear them.

      On the matter of Deepfreeze, when you say this —

      “Today that includes endless opinion pieces by people who are little more than glorified bloggers …”

      — it is largely irrelevant because Deepfreeze does not target general dubious practice; it targets specifically voices that appear on one side of the political spectrum. GG has embraced numerous journalists who are likewise ‘little more than glorified bloggers’ – none appear on the Deepfreeze site. It is a purely partisan project, about as far from any semblance of neutrality and objectivity as possible.

      Finally, it has been a mistake of GG’s from the start to conflate new reporting with the more woolly term ‘journalism’. In fact, games journalism from its inception has always been more like blogging than news reporting. The magazines that used to dominate the market were blogs printed on paper. Many had strong ties with the marketing divisions of console manufacturers. It’s only in the digital age that games journalists have started to develop their own internal code of good behaviour, particular to their profession. This has evolved naturally and is ongoing, so the idea of catching someone out on something that has traditionally been a very blurry area does indeed look like witch-hunting.

      Furthermore, GG has now damaged the development of games journalism’s internal code of ethics by bringing about an era of partisan politics where healthy criticism is swamped in a never-ending tidal wave of utterly miserable criticism brought on by enmity.

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  2. Mistake #1 – Non-sequitor.

    Deepfreeze reviews the work of journalists, picked due to found breaches.
    AutoBlocker uses guilt by association based on who you follow.

    You equate the two.

    If you want to equate reviewing journalists to something else, you’re welcome to equate it to another type of reviews, let’s say vidya since we have some experience in that field by being involved in GG. In that case, you will quickly realize that the argument that it’s subjective is a non-sequitor, it’s _meant_ to be subjective.

    Mistake #2 – Bad Faith

    Now using the example from before with vidya, do you assume that e.g. Polygon will review a title with bare skin poorly? If yes, then you admit that reviews is indeed ideological subjective see mistake #1 and as such there is no need to discuss the issue further, if no as you indicate in your post then why do you assume that deepfreeze will do it? You’re assuming bad faith.

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    • By far the largest number of entries on Deepfreeze contain one bullet point: “Member of the Gamejournopros mailing list”. There couldn’t be a more classic case of guilt by association.

      So it is not a non sequitur.

      On your point 2, Deepfreeze is not ‘reviewing’ anything – it is selecting people purely out of enmity. That’s why all the bullet points on an individual’s entry are negative. It’s absurd to compare this to a games review site in which any given review will contain a mixture of negative and positive points. Self-evidently, Polygon does not review any title ‘with bare skin’ poorly – your problem with it seems to be that its reviewers will often chalk overt sexualisation of women up as a negative when reviewing. But it’s so easy to find examples of games with partial nudity which get good write-ups that I doubt I need to point to any. You or anyone else reading this can take five minutes to find them yourself.

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      • Alright the “member of GJP” is guilt by association, I was talking more in general but I will admit it on that single point. The bulletpoint should be reworked so it dosen’t give a “point” on the site. It’s still interesting for the people who are reading the review of the journalist in the current climate. It’s subjective whether or not being a part of the GJP is bad, I would leave it up to the reader to decide upon it.

        I’d say it’s reviewing the journalists and as such it’s a review site, is it a classical written review such as the ones presented on e.g. Polygon? No, it’s not but that doesn’t change the principle that reviews are subjective. As for your challenge, yeah I’d say no you’re wrong, yes you may be able to find a few reviews where it doesn’t happen but the large majority on Polygon, absolutely ideological bias in that regard for good or worse, they even state it in their about section paraphrasing -> “This is a progressive site”.

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