SXSW Considers Full-Day Harassment Event After BuzzFeed, Vox Boycott

Festival reinstates one of two canceled panels under threat from digital media giants

South By Southwest Interactive is considering reversing course on its decision to cancel two panels focused on online harassment after BuzzFeed and Vox Media threatened to pull its speakers from the festival.

Re/code reported that organizers have already reinstated one of the panels, “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games,” and are considering going beyond simply restoring the pre-existing schedule; they’re mulling whether to create a full-day event dedicated to the issue. The panels were initially canceled after the festival received “numerous threats of on-site violence” believed to be related to the Gamergate controversy of last year.

SXSW has been in contact with both digital sites about participating  in a potential harassment event, Re/code reported. On Tuesday, Vox Media said the festival should have expected threats in response to a discussion on harassment.

“By approving the panels in question, SXSW assumed responsibility for related controversies and security threats,” Vox said. “By canceling the panels, they have cut off an opportunity to discuss a real and urgent problem in media and technology today.”

Festival organizers said on Monday that they were “working with local law enforcement to assess the various threats received regarding these sessions.”

BuzzFeed and Vox didn’t respond to TheWrap’s request for comment regarding its interest in participating in an all-day harassment event.