Brisbane-based games reviewer Alanah Pearce. [photo: Facebook]
A local games reviewer has found an effective way to get behind the veil of anonymity that internet trolls use to harass women online - inform their mothers.
Over the weekend, Alanah Pearce, a 21-year-old Brisbane-based journalist and media student who reviews games for Triple J and local radio, posted a tweet highlighting such an exchange with an unsuspecting mother. It's seen been retweeted over 35,000 times.
"Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I've started telling their mothers," she wrote, sharing the mother's response.
"Hi Anna, I don’t know you, but I was wondering if [blanked] is your son?", Pearce's message, sent via Facebook, reveals. "I have never spoken to him before, but he sent me a concerning message to my public Facebook page today that I was wondering if you might be interested in discussing with him."
"Omg, little s**t. IM SO SORRY. YES I WILL TALK TO HIM!", the mother replied.
Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I've started telling their mothers. pic.twitter.com/0Cbs81eXiE— Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) November 28, 2014
"A while ago, I realised that a lot of the people who send disgusting or overly sexual comments to me over the internet aren’t adult males,” Pearce told The Guardian. "It turns out that mostly they’re young boys and the problem is they don’t know any better, so responding to them rationally didn’t resolve the situation. And it got to the point where their comments were starting to make me feel really uncomfortable."
"I was like 'How can we be pro-active about stopping these people?' It's easy to say ignore them, but then that's not actually a solution," she added in an interview with Sunrise yesterday. "So I thought about who I could contact, and decided mothers would be best."
According to a following tweet, Pearce says she's also contacted three other mothers of boys who've sent her rape threats, but she's yet to receive a response.
Harassment against female reviewers has become prevalent in the gaming industry, specifically tied to the ongoing '#Gamergate' controversy. In August, game critic Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency was forced to flee her home after an online troll sent her a string of messages graphically detailing how he would rape and murder her, before killing her parents. In October, a talk she was supposed to give at a Utah college campus was cancelled, after uni administrators received threats promising "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if Sarkeesian was allowed to speak.
“It’s directly related [to Gamergate] and it’s a weird thing that has been happening in gaming culture specifically," Pearce told The Guardian about the threats she's received. "I’ve had people asking me today why this boy has been sending me rape threats, and is there any context. I can only assume he’s seen a video of mine that he didn’t like, or that I’m a woman in games on the internet. It sounds illogical, but it happens to so many people.”