Last week, Adobe reacted to coordinated online complaints about a journalist and found itself embroiled in the GamerGate internet campaign. This week, the software giant is backing away from GamerGate.
When a writer with Gawker, responding to GamerGate, made a flippant joke on Twitter that "nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission" and bullying ought to be brought back, online campaigners complained to Gawker advertisers, some of which pulled support from the network of sites. Although Adobe is not an advertiser, it responded to complaints by demanding that Gawker remove its logo from an advertising page; a demonstration, as it tweeted at the time, that it "would never support any group that bullies."
After the resulting backlash, Adobe has decided to respond at length, distancing itself from GamerGate. In a blog post today, the company's corporate communications department states that they "learned a lesson," when they "stepped into a controversy called GamerGate."
"We are not and have never been aligned with GamerGate," states the post. "We reject all forms of bullying, including the harassment of women by individuals associated with GamerGate. Every human being deserves respect, regardless of gender, orientation, appearance, personal hobbies or anything else that makes individuals who they are."
Adobe explained the situation as follows ...
A Gawker reporter posted a series of tweets that appeared to condone bullying of gamers. We were mistakenly listed as an advertiser on the Gawker website (which we are not), so we asked Gawker to remove our logo (which they did). However, as a result of our logo having appeared on the Gawker website, we received tweets that accused us of condoning bullying. One of our employees innocently responded to one of these tweets saying we don't advertise on Gawker, that we asked them to remove our logo and that we don't condone bullying. Unfortunately, that tweet was perceived to support Gamergaters and created a firestorm on twitter. Later that day we tried to clarify our position but clearly we were not explicit enough.
The GamerGate movement and Twitter hashtag is a social campaign defined by most supporters as a call to effect change in video game journalism and to defend the "gamer" identity. The movement is difficult to define because what it has come to represent has no central leadership or agreed-upon manifesto. The hashtag was first used by actor Adam Baldwin in August after intimate details of a personal relationship between a video game developer and a video game journalist were made public and led some to allege cronyism between press and developers. The campaign is now also linked to ongoing and well-established harassment of women in video games, including Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn, Sarkeesian and Giant Spacekat head Brianna Wu, though many of GamerGate's supporters deny the campaign should be blamed for harassment.
Earlier this month, microprocessor-maker Intel issued an apology regarding its decision to pull advertising from the industry journal Gamasutra, a decision made under pressure GamerGate supporters. Polygon and parent company Vox Media have been the subject of similar campaigns.