An innocent tweet about the online game ‘Destiny 2’ has led to a terrifying campaign of death threats and doxxing
An innocent tweet about a hugely popular online multiplayer game led to a terrifying real-life campaign of doxxing and death threats against employees of gaming company Bungie Inc.
Two employees of Bungie, the American company behind ‘Destiny 2’ – a first-person shooter with 40 million users – recently convinced an Ontario judge to order Waterloo-based TextNow Inc. , to name his clients who made “racist and serious physical threats”. against them.
TextNow offers users an anonymous telephone service.
On June 2, a Bungie employee in the United States tweeted an ad for “Destiny 2” with two videos of a player using the online name Uhmaayyze. Advertisements called him a hero.
“Uhmaayyze is African American,” Superior Court Judge Fred Myers said in his recent decision. “He is well known among those who play and watch Destiny 2 because he freestyles raps on live streaming platforms while playing the game.”
On the day of the tweet, a doxxing campaign – using the internet to reveal a person’s private information – and threats began.
An anonymous person tweeted a threat to kill employees at Bungie’s accounts on June 14.
“Soon after, several Bungie employees began receiving voicemails and text messages to unpublished personal phone numbers repeatedly using the racial slur colloquially known as the ‘N-word’,” Judge said. .
“That evening, a person calling himself ‘Brian’ left a voicemail message on the personal phone line of the employee who had posted the advertisements. Brian referred to the employee by name and asked Destiny 2 to provide a scene or downloadable part of the game (DLC) for the ‘N-word killing’,” Myers said.
“A few minutes later, he called back and identified himself as a member of a far-right social network known for posting censored material on mainstream social media. He repeated the request to add DLC “N-word kill” in Destiny 2.”
The employee’s spouse, who works for Bungie, also received a text requesting the DLC.
One also received a voicemail saying, “Enjoy your pizza.”
“Around the same time, someone using the same phone number as the anonymous caller ordered a pizza from the employees’ home address,” Myers said. “Unsurprisingly, the use of employees’ home addresses spooked them. They called the local police and made a report.
Evidence showed a “Destiny 2” player with the username @Inkcel also made threats, the judge said.
“Inkcel tweeted a picture of the employee’s Bungie staff ID card,” Myers said. “He tweeted that he had moved to live 30 minutes from the employee.”
Inkcel also tweeted the employee’s full name and said the employee “is not safe.”
“The similarity of the name ‘Inkcel’ with the term ‘incel’ makes threats scarier for (employees) as well,” the judge said. “The term ‘incel’ means ‘involuntary celibacy’ and refers to a violent misogynistic ideology embraced by some who identify with the term.”
Employees feared that using their home address would lead to swatting.
“This is a ‘prank’ where someone reports to the police that a serious crime is going on at the victim’s home,” the judge said. “The goal is to get the police to send a SWAT team to the victim’s home. If the victim is broadcasting live at the time, people watching on the internet are likely finding it amusing to watch the police invade the home of the unsuspecting victim.
“Not only is it terrifying to have a SWAT team show up in your home, but it’s dangerous. People have been killed in such ‘pranks’.”
The two employees sought an “urgent and confidential” court order requiring TextNow to name the customers who made the threats. The judge gave his consent on June 15 but waited a month before releasing his reasons due to “the seriousness of the allegations of danger”.
TextNow collects information about each user, including email address, phone number, IP address, credit card number, and call and text logs.
“Our mission is to provide everyone with an affordable way to communicate, and we value the security and privacy of our users,” a TextNow spokesperson said in an email to The Record. “From time to time, we receive legitimate requests for information. We comply with all valid requests, as required by law.
Neil Paris, one of the attorneys representing the two Bungie employees, said the company had no comment on the judge’s ruling.
“The client has asked me to inform you, however, that these reasons for decision are not related to any other litigation that has been reported in the media,” he said in an email.
The judge said the employees did not plan to sue the users in Ontario.
“Whether they sue in the United States or simply give the name to the police, I believe that exceptional fair remedy should be available to identify people who harass others, with basic racism, who dox, misuse personal information and make overt threats of physical harm and death,” he said.