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BuzzFeed threatens to pull out of SXSW following gaming panel cancellations

BuzzFeed has announced that it intends to withdraw from next March's SXSW 2016 conference as a result of yesterday's removal of two gaming-related panels from the event schedule.

The popular news and multimedia site shared a statement issued to Hugh Forrest, SXSW's director of the Interactive portion of the week-long festival, which was signed by three members of its editorial board: publisher Dao Nguyen, editor-in-chief Ben Smith, and president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures Ze Frank.

"We were disturbed to learn yesterday that you canceled two panels," the letter reads, "including one on harassment in gaming, in response to the sort of harassment the panel sought to highlight.

"We hope you will reconsider that decision, and reinstate the panels."

If SXSW is unable to do so, then BuzzFeed "will feel compelled to withdraw [its panels]."

"We hope you can support the principle of free speech and engage a vital issue facing us and other constituents on the event," the group continues.

A representative for BuzzFeed told Polygon that it has not yet received a response from SXSW regarding its intention to withdraw from the event.

The panels, "SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community" and "Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games," intended to address the gaming community at large. The former, run by a group claiming to uphold the tenet of "ethics in journalism" shared by the GamerGate movement, was set to discuss "the importance of journalistic integrity in video game's media [sic]," while the latter was to feature a group of experts discussing ways to combat online harassment and curtail its growth.

We have reached out to a SXSW representative for comment on the cancelations as well as BuzzFeed's intention to remove itself from the conference.

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