A FOIA request reveals threats, trolls abound. Also, the FBI referred to Twitter as “Tweeter” twice.
In early November of 2014, Twitter user @livebeef submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI concerning its investigation into the Gamergate social media movement. Now, in December of 2016, he finally received his information, which he sent to the media before posting on Kotaku in Action, the subreddit home of Gamergate (link). It reveals that the FBI began investigating Gamergate very early on and has since closed the investigation, stating, “To date, all available investigative steps failed to identify any subjects or actionable leads.”
The heavily redacted 169-page PDF files contain some of the threatening letters sent to Utah State University, where Anita Sarkeesian attempted to hold a lecture but cancelled because the public university could not ban firearms from the event after the threats. The first threat is seriously written, while the second threat is an obvious troll, using language commonly found in internet memes.
A third seriously-written threat was delivered, with the official in the report saying, “it shows the sender… does not follow the news as the appearance was already canceled.”
The report goes on to talk of a non-specified death threat received by a reporter, which was attributed to users of the Something Awful website. Users of the website are also known as “goons”, and are infamous for trolling. Supporters of Gamergate have often claimed that these “goons”, acting as Gamergate supporters, are the source of much of the harassment attributed to Gamergate.
Further on, the report details a police visit to a juvenile, who admitted to making “40-50” threatening phone calls to one of the victims. The juvenile “told me he will stop doing this and apologized for this incident,” according to the police report. No further action seems to have been taken.
Another event detailed an FBI visit to the home of a man whose name was involved in a threatening email. This is most likely YouTube user MrRepzion, because of the timing and because the documents say the man intended to post a video immediately after the FBI visit, which is likely this video. Questioning the man using language they had previously seen in their investigation, they asked him if he has ever been referred to as a “Glorious Winged Faggot Extraordinaire”.
Another section discussed Intel, which was dragged into the Gamergate controversy when it pulled its ad campaign from Gamasutra as a result of Gamergate’s campaign targeting advertisers on websites that published the infamous “Gamers are Over” series of articles. Intel eventually realized they were involved in a controversy they didn’t want to be a part of, and to make amends they donated money to diversity projects, including Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency. Still, as a result of their involvement, one of Intel’s “top officials” was the victim of identity theft and had a bank account opened in his or her name, with the person’s social security number and date of birth. Intel informed authorities about this crime and acquired LifeLock’s services for its other top officials.
Further on, the report details correspondence with one of the victims of the threats, repeatedly cautioning her against taking matters to the media.
“Again, although it is your right to go to the Media and to discuss this investigation, I would caution you once again about discussing with the Media what is being provided to the FBI and what steps are being taken by any law enforcement agency. I am attempting to collect the evidence for your case that would be useful in prosecution of any subject (once a subject is identified) and it is very difficult to do this when people know about the FBI involved and their need for use of Thor and other Proxies. [sic]”
The FBI cites 8chan, specifically the Baphomet board, as the source of some of the doxing and harassment. Again, many Gamergate supporters have claimed they share no affiliation with Baphomet, and claim that those users are trolls who manipulated the media in order to blame their bad actions on Gamergate. Others have claimed that Baphomet has worked in conjunction of Gamergate.
The reports conclude by mentioning there is no outstanding evidence or leads to further investigate. As of right now, the FBI’s investigation of Gamergate is over.