A massive database of video game journalists, YouTubers, and streamers leaked after it was discovered last week.
The Entertainment Software Association, which runs the E3 video game expo, was storing the names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers of over 2,000 attendees on a public page on their website. A copy of the list, viewed by BuzzFeed News, was archived on several popular message boards for trolls, and includes the home addresses of many reporters.
One comment on a thread discussing the leak said, “they were asking for it for being 'gaming journalists' in the first place."
The leaked list was discovered by journalist and YouTube creator Sophia Narwitz. Narwitz made a video about the database, titled "The Entertainment Software Association just doxxed over 2000 journalists and content creators," last week.
Narwitz told BuzzFeed News that some members of the media criticized her following her video, accusing her of drawing attention to the list. Making Narwitz's role in this more complicated is her history with the pro-Gamergate subreddit r/KotakuInAction. She's currently arguing publicly with members of the gaming site Kotaku.
Based on screenshots Narwitz tweeted, however, she did attempt to notify ESA about the leak before making her video about it.
"I think this whole event shows a stunning level of incompetence on the ESA’s part. The file wasn’t password protected, it was just in the open for anyone to download with a single click," she said.
Harassment against those included on the list appears to have already begun.
"I started getting unknown caller calls around 3 a.m.," one journalist who wished to remain anonymous but whose address and personal phone number were included on the list told BuzzFeed News. "I've only gotten one voicemail and it sounded like somebody calling from their car or something."
The journalist said two of their coworkers from the same outlet have also received strange calls.
A post on another message board thread about the leak suggested "craigslist posts in their home city asking to be called at 3 a.m. for casual anal."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to ESA about the leak, but has not received a comment.
“ESA was made aware of a website vulnerability that led to the contact list of registered journalists attending E3 being made public,” the ESA wrote in a statement provided to Kotaku. “Once notified, we immediately took steps to protect that data and shut down the site, which is no longer available. We regret this occurrence and have put measures in place to ensure it will not occur again.”
It's unclear how long the information was available on E3 Expo's website, but the directory was dated May 2019, which means it was accessible for at least three months.
Harassment against games journalists — particularly women journalists — has been a constant issue since the 2014 Gamergate movement. Writers and streamers are regularly doxed and sent abuse. Streamers, in particular, are constantly threatened with swatting.
"We’re going to see a lot of harassment," Narwitz said. "I have personal friends on that list and I fear they’ll be bombarded with nonsense, just as I fear others will be. Especially for smaller sites who didn’t have a business address but used their home."