That Time the Internet Sent a SWAT Team to My Mom’s House
When I set out to research the out-of-control harassment problem in gamer culture, I never dreamed my mother would be caught up in the middle of it all.
Illustrations by Natalie Kassirer
I opened my inbox and saw an email from a reporter for a New Orleans newspaper. “I came across your name today while researching an article,” he wrote. I assumed he was writing an article about online harassment and had reached out to me because I was a budding researcher in the field and a New Orleans native. I was excited that a local newspaper was interested in the topic, and flattered that the reporter had reached out to me. Then I kept reading:
...about a fairly unusual incident on [my mother’s street] this weekend. A hoax call about a threat at a home there prompted a large police response, I recognized this immediately as the harassment tactic known as ‘swatting,’ born out of the online gaming community.
I felt my face go very, very flush, and I felt my chest get very, very tight; everything seemed to get very, very heavy.
“After searching public records,” the email continued, “I discovered that the home targeted appears to be registered in your mo…
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