Mass. Court Won’t Touch ‘Gamergate’ Gag Order

     (CN) — A Massachusetts court dismissed an appeal brought by the man who sparked “Gamergate,” which challenged a protective order prohibiting him from encouraging “hate mobs” by posting about his ex-girlfriend online.
     Zoë Quinn is a video game developer, most well known for her game Depression Quest, a text-based game following the life of a person suffering from depression.
     In August 2014, her former boyfriend Eron Gjoni allegedly published a blog post detailing his relationship with Quinn, and stating that she had won her success by sleeping with a journalist to get a positive review of her game.
     The post released a torrent of misogynist responses. Supporters organized themselves under the Twitter hashtag #Gamergate, and organized a virulent coordinated campaign to harass Quinn.
     She received hate mail, including numerous rape and death threats, according to court records, and was forced her to leave her home and change her phone number due to the violence of the threats.
     One such threat, reported in the New Yorker, allegedly stated: “Next time she shows up at a conference we… give her a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal… a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say a brain damage, but we don’t want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us.”
     Many other women in the video game industry were also targeted by Gamergate supporters.
     It was later confirmed that the accusations in the blog post about Quinn sleeping with a journalist to win a favorable review were false, as the journalist never reviewed her game, according to various reports.
     Quinn won a protective order in Massachusetts court prohibiting Gjoni from contacting her, or coming to her home or office.
     In addition, the order forbade Gjoni from posting “any further information about [Quinn] or her personal life online or to encourage ‘hate mobs,'” for a period of one year.
     When the protective order was extended another year, Gjoni appealed the provision concerning online posting, arguing that it violated his First Amendment rights.
     However, while the appeal was pending, Quinn sought to vacate the order.
     She claimed that “the existence of [the] order, and Mr. Gjoni’s appeal of it, is in fact exacerbating her situation by allowing Mr. Gjoni to continue to draw attention to himself, and as a result [to her], which has the direct effect of increasing the harassment and threats she suffers,” court records show.
     A state judge granted Quinn’s request, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled Thursday that Gjoni’s appeal is now moot.
     “At this time, neither party retains anything but an academic interest in those issues, which go to the scope of the now terminated order. We therefore decline to reach them,” Justice James Milkey wrote for a three-member panel.
     Gjoni faced criminal charges for an alleged violation of the posting ban when he filed his appeal, but those charges have since been dismissed.
     “While it may well be true that these issues are likely to arise again, we are unpersuaded that, if so, they will evade appellate review,” Milkey wrote.

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