Disclaimer: The following incidents are still under investigation. All information contained within the article is based on available public information. Any withheld information is for the benefit of the individuals involved.
Things seem to have escalated to a whole new level on November 16, 2014 when a couple different gamergate supporters (names withheld for their own safety) reported swatting incidents. These incidents seemed to have all happened almost simultaneously. Additionally, another gamergate support was forced from his home in the same night.
For those who have never heard of swatting, the FBI homepage has a good description. Swatting is simply the act of faking an emergency to send a SWAT team to the home of someone you dislike. The act is often done as a prank. As you can imagine, there are serious ramifications for swatting. Victims have suffered from minor heart attacks and law enforcement officials have been injured during past swatting cases.
Previous Swatting Incidents
There have been two major incidents in recent months involving the gamers and the video game industry. On August 27 in Littleton, Colorado, a swat team was sent out in response to a call involving popular streamer Kootra. The caller had told police that Kootra had kid killed two employees and was holding others hostage. Video of that incident can be found on YouTube. It should come to no surprise that the SWAT team had taken such aggressive action given the community’s history and proximity to Columbine. As a consequence several schools in the vicinity were put on lock down.
The other incident occurred on November 6 and involved a Bungie executive. A phone call was made to the police stating that the caller was holding the executive and his family hostage. The caller had demanded $20,000 in ransom money. It was determined 45 minutes later that the call was in fact a hoax. The perpetrator is suspected to be involved in the gaming industry and could be facing $5,000 in fines and jail time. Luckily no one was hurt.
A number of swatting incidents have crept up in the past couple of years. In 2009, 19 year old Matthew Weigman was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for a swatting conspiracy. Weigman was able to con his victim’s information out of telecommunication employees. Weigman’s first swatting incident occured back in 2004. His target was a girl that he met in an online chat room who had refused to have phone sex with him.
Prevention And Safety
It’s possible to minimize the chances of getting swatted by removing as much of your public information as possible from the internet. This minimizes the risk of doxxing and in turn minimizes the possibilities of being swatted. Anyone active in gamergate might want to check their privacy settings across social media and make sure their privacy settings are as strict as possible.Facebook, for example as the ability to hide your profile from public searches. This a great feature that keeps strangers from looking up your name.
Another thing you can do is avoid giving out you location. Twitter for example has the option to add a location to your tweets. That option should remain unchecked. Furthermore, Twitch users should avoid giving out any part of their real names or their location. There is a reason gamertags and online aliases exist. Be careful what you tell people online.
Should you fall victim to a swatting incident, cooperate with the authorities. They will have as much of a reason to be annoyed about the swatting incident as you are. The last thing a law enforcement officers want to is deal with an uncooperative individual. Resisting could lead to unnecessary injury. Should you feel like your rights are being violated you should seek legal council.
We don’t know for sure who could have been behind the most recent swatting incidents—that will be up to the authorities to figure out. While I certainly wouldn’t put it past the SJWs to use swatting as a means to an end, we simply don’t have an answer yet as to whether or not they were involved. So far many of these cases have involved teenagers who are impulsive and can’t seem to think clearly. If that is the case then what you have are opportunist trolls taking advantage of the powder keg that is gamergate.
In case anyone has forgotten, many anti-gamergaters have expressed the desire to kill gamergate supporters. While many of these invoke Poe’s Law such as Geordie Tait’s epic length rants, they still should be treated seriously. People make threats all the time and never follow through, but we should still remain vigilant and be prepared for worst case scenarios.