Breitbart associate editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was nominated by public vote as the leading candidate in the “journalist” category of the Shorty Awards this year, was scrubbed from the nominations roster after a whispering campaign by feminist agitators, say sources close to the Awards.
The Shorty Awards, which held their 2015 ceremony in New York City this week, say their aim is to honour the “best of social media.” Using a combination of popular and judge-led nominations, the Shortys are aiming to establish themselves as the “Oscars of the internet.” But the Awards have been dogged by accusations that they arbitrarily remove popular nominees because they are too politically controversial.
There were a number of other unexplained removals after the close of nominations. African-American game developer Jason Miller, who was fired from his job after introducing the #NotYourShield hashtag to Twitter in October, was also removed. Despite being a single individual, Miller had outstripped Gawker’s video games blog, Kotaku, in popular nominations. Thanking his supporters on his blog, Miller accused the Shorty Awards of failing to represent the people’s choice.
Blogger and web entrepreneur Mike Cernovich, who gained enough popular votes to enter the “healthy living” finalists also had his awards profile removed. According to Cernovich, the Shorty Awards did not provide him with any reason for their actions. Writing on his blog, Cernovich accused the Shorty Awards of using him and his followers to promote their awards via public nominations, before denying them their final choice after nominations closed. “The Shorty Awards are a fraud and a scam,” he says.
Further irregularities were reported. According to Jason Miller, a number of candidates received dramatic and unexplained falls in their nomination rankings – after nominations closed. These included Canadian game developer Jennifer Dawe and the “PC Master Race” gaming community. Dawe had previously been ranked third in popular nominations, which would have granted her a place among the finalists. Meme consultant and Kill la Kill scholar “Chobitcoin” also had her nomination profile completely removed from the awards, for reasons unknown.
There seems to have been a pattern to the removal of nominees. Many of them were supporters of the #GamerGate movement against censorship and sloppy journalism in the video games industry. Users of the GamerGate-supporting Reddit community KotakuInAction suggested exposing this perceived bias by reporting rule breaches on the part of anti-GamerGate figures.
Despite clear instances of such breaches, none of the reports were acted upon. Some speculated that a candidate’s friendship with one of the Shorty Award nominating board members was the cause of this apparently preferential treatment.
It isn’t the first time that the Shorty Awards have faced accusations of impropriety and unprofessionalism. In 2008, awards organisers were accused of actively changing peoples’ votes in order to stop a parody account from winning one of the categories. A source with first-hand knowledge of the Shorty Awards told Breitbart that the Awards regularly bow to pressure from social justice activists to avoid nominating popular, often conservative, figures.
In 2012, bloggers observed that almost two out of three non-industry sponsored Shorty Awards did not go to the most popular candidates. In 2013, a number of popular award categories were dropped without warning, despite the fact that the winners of those categories had already been invited to attend the ceremony.
The Shorty Awards were set up by New York company Sawhorse Media in 2008. There are award categories for best blogger, YouTube star, Vine artist, journalist, gamer, actor and many more. In theory, three finalists in each category are selected by a panel of judges, while three others are determined by a popular vote of Twitter users.
This year, however, a number of the most popular nominees were removed from the contest in several categories, for reasons that onlookers found highly questionable. A contest for the “best of social media” will inevitably attract accusations that it is merely a popularity contest. However, in the case of the Shorty Awards, many are now arguing that it fails to accomplish even that.
When contacted, the Shorty Awards said that Yiannopoulos had “promoted pornography” on his Twitter feed in violation of their rules, but a scan of his tweets find no such images or Tweets. When asked to provide a specific link to tweets that justified his removal, the Shorty Awards failed to respond. Actor James Franco, who was promoting a movie about the BDSM website Kink.com a few hours before Yiannopoulos’ removal, was not removed as a nominee.