An AllOut.org campaign to support Electronic Arts over its inclusion of gay characters in two recent video games has had to be suspended following hackers’ efforts to add thousands of fake signatures.
Within two days, the campaign in question had amassed 60,000 signatories who backed EA in the face of criticism and threats of boycott levelled as a result of optional gay sub-plots in Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3.
But AllOut has now said it can verify 60,000 genuine signatures but that there were several thousand more which had been added by bots.
An announcement said: “AllOut.org has temporarily disabled the campaign page of its website due to a cyber attack by hackers. In the attack, hackers added roughly 3000-5000 comments and signatures onto the petition. AllOut.org is currently in the process of removing those signatures, but can verify that over 60,000 members have sign onto the petition and continue to urge Electronic Arts to stay away from the dark side.”
A spokesman for EA dubbed the complaints after it included gay characters “political harassment”. Criticism which sprung from a boycott call by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council led to “thousands” of letters of complaint.
AllOut.org responded by launching the page which has now been suspended. It has not been made known who was responsible for the hack.
Andre Banks, executive director for AllOut.org said of the campaign before it was suspended: “Electronic Arts customers are speaking out loud and clear: Being for equality is good for business. Groups like the Family Research Council are truly on the ‘dark side’ – they put pressure on companies like EA to block fair, balanced portrayals of gay characters in gaming and other media. You don’t have to be a gamer to understand that it makes a real difference for Electronic Arts to present positive portrayals of gays and lesbians to its community of 100 million players.”
Banks added, “We are not arguing that Electronic Arts is a perfect company, but we know that today, on this issue, they are taking an important stand that should be celebrated and supported.”
AllOut.org joked that it would enlist Star Wars character Yoda to deliver the signatures collected online to the EA headquarters in California, and has appropriated his image on the petition website.