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How Occupy Wall Street turned into Gamergate shills
Why Occupy Wall Street’s loudest voice supports Gamergate.
Astonishing many, Occupy Wall Street’s largest Twitter account, which is under the control of a single New Yorker, tweeted its support on Friday for Gamergate—a group whose members have bullied and sexually harassed women online.
Gamergate, for the uninitiated, is a loosely affiliated group of individuals who claim to want ethics in gaming journalism, but for weeks have been terrorizing women out of their homes. The @OccupyWallSt account—stolen last February from a group of social activists on Twitter by a Google employee named Justine Tunney—called on its followers to speak out against what it called “anti-geek hate.”
Described by her former comrades as a technocratic fascist, Tunney revealed that she’d taken the Occupy Wall Street account last February, declaring the movement was under “new management,” and tweeting a selfie in the likeness of Dolores Umbridge. This event was described by BuzzFeed as Occupy Wall Street’s final implosion.
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 6, 2014
The focus of Tunney’s online rage was journalist Sam Biddle, who tore into the Gamergate crowd Monday for Gawker, declaring them an army of anonymous losers being manipulated by right-wing Internet opportunists.
“Atop a blob of angry, naive, and alienated youths is this handful of self-promoters who recognize an opportunity to self-promote,” wrote Biddle. “The kids of Gamergate think they’ve found heroes and allies, a group of adults who will finally include and respect them. But they’re being made fools of all over again.”
Ultimately #GamerGate is reaffirming what we’ve known to be true for decades: nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission
— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) October 16, 2014
Tweets by Biddle targeting the Gamergaters—which he told Re/code Wednesday were totally facetious—led software company Adobe to pull its logo from Gawker’s website.
We are vehemently opposed to bullying of any kind and would never support any group that bullies.
— Adobe (@Adobe) October 22, 2014
The inevitable public apology:
Yesterday I tweeted some things about “nerds” that were supposed to be funny, but ended up hurting many ppl. I fucked it up, and I’m sorry!
— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) October 17, 2014
However, Tunney’s disdain for Biddle likely stems not from her desire to defend the geeks of the world—whom may be offended to be equated directly with terroristic threats—but because he once published an article that referred to her as a “pro-slavery lunatic.”
Biddle’s Tunney piece was likewise based on a series of tweets, in which she appeared to advocate slavery. One read: “Maybe we should bring back slavery then. At least slaves got free food an [sic] housing.”
All this diversity nonsense makes me wonder if the only reason Google hired me is because I’m a minority. If so, I should just kill myself.
— Justine Tunney (@JustineTunney) July 20, 2014
Asked Friday to comment on the Occupy Twitter attack, Biddle responded: “Nah, I don’t care.”
“The trolls have found a healthy feeding ground,” Adam Raviolli (not his real name), a self-described “men’s rights activist” familiar with the Tunney occupation, told the Daily Dot. “But I don’t think that Occupy was or is the most unimportant thing on the planet. Quite the opposite.”
“Anyone who declares support for #Gamergate is completely out of touch with reality and desperately grasping for any kind of relevancy,” said Griffin Boyce, a prominent hacker who works for the Tor Project. “In addition to being wholly ignorant of threats to free speech online, they are also ignoring the commonplace conflicts of interest that happen between gaming publications and large corporations.”
Tunney responded only once to repeated inquiries. Asked who was in charge of the @OccupyWallSt account, she replied: “The same person who has always run it.”
Photo via David Shankbone/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.