A video game developer tells how she became an outspoken advocate for victims of online abuse.
In August 2014, the life Quinn had built after “clawing my way out of poverty, homelessness, isolation, and mental illness” changed forever. An abusive ex-lover had decided to take revenge by posting hateful messages about her on video game forums. One post included a link to a 9,000-word “manifesto” that claimed Quinn had slept with video game evaluators to receive favorable reviews. A few months later, she found herself at the center of a cultural storm that came to be known as GamerGate. Hackers sympathetic to her ex hounded Quinn's past associates. Online, they posted nude photos and “discussions about how to drive me to suicide and the merits of raping me versus torturing me first and raping me afterwards.” The author began keeping her whereabouts secret because she felt as unsafe in her virtual life as she did in her real one. Refusing to be cowed into silence, she attempted to seek justice only to find that the “legal system [was] ill-equipped to handle the idea that anything real happens on the internet. In response, she founded an online abuse crisis hotline and victims’ advocacy group, which she named Crash Override Network. Quinn’s book is strongest in the detailed information she provides about the many—mostly underdiscussed—legal and corporate bottlenecks she encountered as both a victim and investigator of malicious cyberattacks. One especially disturbing observation she makes is that typical victims come from sexually and racially marginalized groups that law enforcement “[has] a history of mistreating.” Her story, which mingles details from her personal and professional lives along with hard-won tips for online safety, sometimes comes across as scattered. Nevertheless, the narrative is still a worthwhile read for anyone interested in taking action against the realities—and devastating effects—of extreme internet trolling.
Not without flaws but an informative and inspiring book.