After Criticism, SXSW Adds Day-Long Forum on Online Harassment

“Earlier this week we made a mistake. 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,” reads a new statement from South by Southwest’s Hugh Forest, after the festival’s decision to cancel several panels tangentially related to gamergate and online harassment was widely criticized online.

Instead of just issuing a mea culpa and reinstating the panels, SXSW is now creating an entire all-day forum on online harassment with a lengthy speakers’ list, including many leading voices on the subject. The panel will be held on Saturday March 12.

“Online harassment is a serious matter and we stand firmly against hate speech and cyber-bullying,” the statement continues. “SXSW strives to bring a diverse range of voices together to facilitate meaningful dialogue in an atmosphere of civility and respect. Given the nature of online harassment, we will continue to work closely with the authorities and safety experts while planning for SXSW 2016.”