This Is How SXSW Is Apologizing For Canceling Those Panels

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images.
After its controversial decision to cancel two panels relating to gaming and online harassment — because of online harassment — it looks like SXSW is recognizing the error of its ways. In a statement posted today, director Hugh Forrest announced that the event will, in fact, broach the subject of online harassment: in a day-long summit on March 12.

“Earlier this week, we made a mistake," Forrest began in his post. "By canceling two sessions, we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry.”

The cynic in us is inclined to believe that the summit was planned to quiet threats of withdrawal from digital media giants Buzzfeed and Vox Media, but, as Forrest's post continues, his remorse at the initial decision to cancel the panels is pretty clear. "We stand firmly against hate speech and cyber-bullying," he writes, adding that "it is a menace that has often resulted in real world violence; the spread of discrimination; increased mental health issues and self-inflicted physical harm."

The summit's speakers will include former Texas senator Wendy Davis, game developer Brianna Wu, Facebook's head of product policy Monika Bickert, and many others. It will be available for free livestreaming the day of, and more speakers are set to be announced as the event approaches.

As for their concerns around violence due to the volatile subject matter, Forrest writes that organizers will strive for the safest possible conditions: "We will continue to work closely with the authorities and safety experts while planning for SXSW 2016."
Advertisement