Perhaps you’ve heard of Eron Gjoni. I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t. His name is much less well known than that of Zoe Quinn, game designer and recent target of the massive Twitter harassment campaign #gamergate. For those of you just tuning into this scandal, I’ll provide a quick recap:
August 16: Eron Gjoni posts a 10,000 word article regarding his recent ex Zoe Quinn, titled “Some Closing Words for the Future Lovers, Friends and Business Associates of Zoe Quinn.” The stated purpose of his post is to warn anyone who comes into contact with Quinn about her, allegedly because she cheated on him and lied about it. According to Eron this amounts to rape, because his consent to have sex was predicated on Quinn’s not consenting to have sex with anyone else. (This isn’t really rape, since you can’t withdraw consent to have sex after the act is completed, but let’s not get hung up on that.) “Closing Words” is basically a butthurt screed where Gjoni reflects on how Quinn allegedly cheated on him, complete with screengrabs from facebook and photos of them together at the start of their relationship. It’s clear reading it that Gjoni is hurt by what happened to him, and the thing is nearly the length of a novella complete with “acts”.
August 16-20: 4chan gets hold of Gjoni’s post, and begins harassing Quinn day and night, ostensibly in the name of “game journalism ethics”, because one of the men Quinn allegedly slept with works for Kotaku. (It’s irrelevant because he never reviewed her game or wrote about her after their relationship began.) Internet detectives begin digging up details on Quinn’s personal life based on the information Gjoni disclosed and tweeting nude photographs and rape threats to her at light speed.
August 20: David Futrelle writes about Zoe Quinn’s harassment, and I begin to follow the story. The harassment of Quinn continues apace.
August 24: Eron Gjoni joins the IRC Channel #burgersandfries (a reference to something Gjoni wrote in his original indictment of Quinn’s character). In it he discusses Quinn’s plans to move, how much better he feels having posted his 10,000 word warning, whether Zoe’s family is rich or not, and how he’s being widely hated by SJWs such as myself for his Aug 16 post. He’s generally accepted as one of the boys and shown respect by the anons in the channel. He avoids doxxing his ex (despite repeated requests) but remains in the channel for to answer questions about Quinn’s previous work, her weight, and her previous ex-boyfriends. Memorably, Gjoni writes:
Aug 24 20.50.44 <Cyberserker> "Ask him why he seems to be making this very personal."Aug 24 20.51.22 <Eron_G> Because my girlfriend cheated on me a ton and all of the things I thought I loved her for were an act.
September 6: Zoe Quinn posts screenshots of #burgersandfries. Eron Gjoni is shown to be in them, coaching anons from 4chan on how to make #gamergate appear like a reasonable, grassroots movement focused on video game ethics rather than a witch hunt designed to ruin his ex’s career. Quinn proves it’s actually Gjoni (and not someone pretending to be him) by using whois, although the logs also confirm his identity, as anons repeatedly ask Gjoni if it really is him and Gjoni reponds to their questions with answers only he could know. He is also given admin status within minutes of his arrival.
September 8: Full logs of #burgersandfries are dumped in some halfassed attempt to exonerate 4chan and prove #gamergate really is about journalism ethics. But to quote David Futrelle, if anyone knew what was in them, they would have kept them to themselves.
September 9-10: I have a conversation with Eron Gjoni on Twitter about his conduct regarding Zoe Quinn, and how it is libel and/or criminal incitement. I was a little pissed at him. He links me to this post, published the same day the IRC logs were. That’s what I’m going to review and quote here.
My initial impression of Gjoni’s latest blog post was that it was incredibly dishonest; like most of his work. But let’s let Eron Gjoni’s words speak for themselves.
I’d set out to warn people about the sorts of things Zoe does, and here she was very clearly misrepresenting the contents of the logs, and abandoning her own views on the importance of trying to talk to detractors — in order to vilify me for doing just that. And people just believed her about it.
No, I don’t think I was wrong to be in that chatroom. It was overwhelmingly the right thing to do. And if you wondered “what kind of person even chooses to associate with that group of jerks” then simply put yourself in my shoes.
Well, that answered my burning question on Twitter- whether he intended to send a virtual mob to hunt Quinn down or not, he’s certainly not sorry that it happened. Although the content of the original post makes it clear Gjoni wants to ruin Quinn’s career and personal life, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. But Gjoni would rather focus on the real victims here- himself, and the people harassing Quinn.
And I had an open and eager audience willing to discuss things with me, whose views were completely contrary to my own. I wasn’t powerless to prevent things from devolving. I could do something.
So I did. I did the kind of thing I fell in love with Zoe for saying she would do. I did the thing Zoe is now calling me evil for doing. I did the thing that was most needed, and that no one else would do. I talked to them, like they were human.
Because they are human.
They are human. They are human. They are human.
They are human, and they’re willing to listen to you if you’ll just let them know you’re willing to have an open and honest discussion with them. They will talk openly and honestly, and if you do it back, you’ll agree on what sorts of actions are in everyone’s (including their) best interest.
Well, Quinn’s harassers are human! That’s certainly a relief, since they could have been bots, or dogs on the internet, or apes who learned to read and write and use Twitter /sarcasm.
But as Gjoni repeats six times, they are HUMANS, who “just want to be listened to”. This whole thing smacks of false equivalency– Gjoni seems to be suggesting that if everyone just kept an open mind and forgave Quinn’s harassers for harassing her day and night, we would see the virtue of their actions, that these are just poor misunderstood souls whose relentless tweeting of Quinn’s nudes were a misguided act of internet patriotism. Add a side of aggrieved entitlement (the comment on “doing the kind of thing I fell in love with Zoe for saying she would do”) and we have Eron Gjoni and the #gamergate movement to a T. But then Gjoni moves on to the outright lies; the sort he says are Quinn’s trademark but are actually Gjoni’s own.
The twitter harassment didn’t just begin to die down, but was actively being discouraged by members of the movement. When members used the tag to harass; other members would reply to tell them to stop.
Eron, knock it off. I’ve read the chat logs– even persons who at times discourage harassing Quinn will later gleefully do it themselves; and there’s little to no policing of the harassment that Quinn recieved by/from #burgersandfries on the channel itself. Indeed, the only convincing argument that makes anyone think twice about harassing Quinn isn’t the effect it will have on her, but the effect it will have on #gamergate and 4chan’s reputation. That’s not compassion… indeed, one anon cautions against harassing Quinn only because it’s a “bad PR move”. Eugh.
After stating #gamergate is there to “make a difference” (yeah right) and his plans to participate in a podcast debate, Gjoni closes with how, if you just work with the trolls, everything comes out roses:
Things are rougher in the internet hatebox — hateboxes don’t act on consensus, they only act on mutual interests. And by definition, the hatebox is a box that will hate you. The hatebox hated me too at first, and inherent lack of consensus means some of it still does. But I went from being known as a “beta cuck” to a “devilishly attractive beta cuck” to having people eager to speak with and listen to me. So yes, it might be rough at first, but you really can foster honest discussion and even camaraderie with people who initially disagree with everything you stand for. I know it’s not impossible, because I’ve done it. And maybe others can too.
Gjoni, I don’t know who’s calling you a “devilishly attractive beta cuck.” If anything, I would call you a liar and a manipulator, of the caliber you accuse Zoe Quinn of being in your initial indictment. Also; check your privelege– as a white man from New England in his mid-twenties, you’re pretty much the stereotype of the AAA gamer. It is naturally easier for you to fit in, and the rage you recieved from 4chan was but a fraction that Quinn recieved, and once you enter the IRC chat the tone changes markedly. There’s a profound difference from the locker-room type bullying you received and the abject threats and harassment Quinn recieved. To suggest the same is a false equivalence.
It’s clear to me that Gjoni is smart enough to know that posting such an excruciatingly detailed story about his relationship with Quinn (complete with pictures) and forwarding it to 4chan would gin up a virtual mob; indeed he knew she’d been harassed and stalked by anons before. So by writing such a document it’s apparent that Gjoni wanted someone else to do the dirty work of harassing and stalking her; so that he could offer some meek resistance and false-equivalence handwaving, window dressing to make him seem like the unwilling pawn in a groundswell of internet anger which Gjoni just happened to unleash on his ex, through no fault of his own. When I contacted him on Twitter I was interested to know whether or not he had any remorse for doing this, even a little bit– but it’s apparent that inasmuch as Quinn’s been harassed, Eron Gjoni got exactly what he wanted.
However, if anything, it’s unlikely he will ever be remembered as anything but “that douchebag who posted a bunch of personal information about Zoe Quinn to try and ruin her life & career.” Such revenge plans often backfire; indeed, with the groundswell of support Quinn has received in recent weeks it’s unlikely Gjoni should ever be employed again.