SXSW Interactive changes tune, announces day-long Online Harassment Summit

(credit: SXSW)

The SXSW Interactive 2016 festival began announcing panels and discussions last week, but two of those—one specifically about online harassment and abuse, and one with apparent ties to the GamerGate hashtag—were canceled on Monday due to “threats of on-site violence.”

After a massive outcry about the cancellations, which included threats from Buzzfeed and Vox Media to pull their support from SXSW, that decision was reversed on Friday—and then some. SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest posted an announcement that the two canceled panels would not only return but be rolled into an all-day Online Harassment Summit—which, at this point, includes 25 announced speakers in all.

“By canceling two sessions we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry,” Forrest wrote in the announcement. “While we made the decision in the interest of safety for all of our attendees, canceling sessions was not an appropriate response. We have been working with the authorities and security experts to determine the best way to proceed.”

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