If you could put GamerGate data in a graphic, what would it look like?
Medium writer and technologist Andy Baio recently answered that question, by creating something beautiful from something that's most often been rather ugly.
Baio created a Python script that found every tweet for three days mentioning the GamerGate and NotYourShield hashtags.
The GamerGate movement took Twitter by storm this year. Although those who first used the hashtag #GamerGate intended it as a campaign for ethics in video game journalism, it soon became an outlet for rampant sexism, harassment and death threats within the gaming community.
Actor Adam Baldwin first used the hashtag after intimate details about video game developer Zoe Quinn became public, which led to some accusing her of having an unethical relationship with the press. Although most of the claims against Quinn were disproven, the hashtag stuck, and soon became ugly as Quinn, along with other women in the gaming industry, received harassment and death threats.
In fact, anyone who dares mention GamerGate, especially those criticizing it, are met with harsh criticism, harassment and online bullying tactics. Even Internet sweetheart Felicia Day had public information released after she spoke out against what the movement has become.
Baio wanted to understand GamerGate better and used his piece of code to analyze over 300,000 tweets over the course of 72 hours.
Baio found that most of the GamerGate tweets were actually re-tweets, about 69 percent. The rest were original tweets, including 46,826 that weren't directed at anyone and 12,837 that publically mentioned one or more people.
Baio also discovered that 25 percent of GamerGate tweeters were fairly new Twitter users, coming from accounts created within the last two months. Many possibly joined Twitter because of the debate, but a small portion could represent those creating fake accounts which they're using to harass other tweeters. The top re-tweeted users are pro-GamerGate, while the top re-tweeted tweets are against.
Baio organized his data into this colorful graphical map, with the help of a data scientist and an open source piece of software called Gephi.
Each point in the graphic represents a single person tweeting about GamerGate. The lines connect who they follow.
"This network visualization is as good a metaphor as any for #Gamergate," writes Baio. "Two massive, impenetrable hairballs of people that want little to do with one another, only listening to their side and firing volleys across the chasm."
Photo Credit: Medium