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A gaming subreddit's harassment campaign peaked when a member faked death threats to themselves

the last of us part 2
(Image credit: Sony)

For a year, Shelby and Matt of gaming channel Girlfriend Reviews have been subject to posts criticising them from the The Last Of Us Part 2 hate subreddit, after they made a positive video about the game that creative director Neil Druckmann retweeted. They chose not to publicly draw attention to being called shills, misrepresentations of their content, and misogynistic slurs, until a user of the subreddit claimed to have been sent death threats by Girlfriend Reviews fans. These death threats then turned out to have been faked.

In a video uploaded to Girlfriend Reviews, the couple explained that they initially thought it was a (not very funny) joke, as the initial threat referred to getting beaten by a club—a subreddit in-joke. As the user continued with more posts citing more threats, they encouraged the Reddit community to brigade the channel's Twitter account ("I'd like them to see how polite their fans are") while privately threatening Matt and Shelby with legal action.

The pair discovered that the threats were being sent by sockpuppet accounts by piecing together background information that was shared between them—as well as a unique written idiolect of using a backtick as an apostrophe. When they shared on Twitter that the death threats being sent by 'their fans' were faked, the rest of The Last Of Us Part 2's hate community doubled down, accusing them of faking the fakery. 

While 'Girlfriend Reviews' is apparently now blocked by the subreddit's automod, multiple mods still made their own posts about how the couple were making the situation up for attention, which is a common argument about victims of harassment campaigns.

In a pinned moderator post responding to the video, one of the moderators—who has since deleted their account—points out that Matt and Shelby could have contacted them and asked them to take down the posts. Matt's response (via screenshot of DM) was that they chose not to moderate the situation, and left the faked threats on the front page of the subreddit for days.