Director of SXSW, Hugh Forrest:
Earlier this week we made a mistake. By cancelling two sessions we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry.
The resulting feedback from the individuals involved and the community-at-large resonated loud and clear. While we made the decision in the interest of safety for all of our attendees, cancelling sessions was not an appropriate response. We have been working with the authorities and security experts to determine the best way to proceed.
It is clear that online harassment is a problem that requires more than two panel discussions to address.
To that end, we’ve added a day-long summit to examine this topic. Scheduled on Saturday, March 12, the Online Harassment Summit will take place at SXSW 2016, and we plan to live-stream the content free for the public throughout the day.
It's a nice gesture, but the initial capitulation to anonymous idiots coupled with the subsequent reversal of said capitulation after the warranted backlash from the community at large only further highlights why SXSW is not the appropriate channel for this discussion. It's not mature enough, and its organizers obviously don't understand the bigger picture. That's disappointing.
I can only hope that the lineup of speakers they've secured can make the most out of this new day-long summit. Maybe SXSW's organizers will learn something from it, too.