Michael Steranka, Pokémon GO Live Game Director at Niantic Labs, took to Twitter to share the online harassment he and his family have been subjected to by a newly created account using the #HearUsNiantic hashtag.
Steranka shared that this is the first time he felt compelled to block an account, but he wanted to share more on why this happened, how he feels about the recent uptick in negativity and what steps he is taking to protect himself and his family.
I decided to block an account for the first time today.
I usually pride myself on never blocking anybody, even though some people say some pretty hurtful things about me. I genuinely think it’s important to read contradicting view points and not get trapped in an echo chamber. pic.twitter.com/Xmb2X81Mht
— Michael Steranka (@MichaelSteranka) May 23, 2023
This account, created just this month, seemed to have one purpose: to harass Steranka and his family with unpleasant remarks. Steranka pointed out that such behavior is completely unacceptable and should be strongly discouraged in the online community.
Steranka acknowledges that some players are upset with Niantic’s recent decisions regarding Pokémon GO. He assures us that they are aware of the feedback and are actively thinking about how to address these concerns without compromising the game’s vision and mission.
Having just returned from parental leave, Steranka is eager to reconnect with players from around the world. His goal is to gather more feedback and improve communication about what Niantic is doing and why. He invites players to reach out if they see him online, emphasizing his commitment to open communication.
Here are all the comments Steranka left on Twitter in response to this topic:
“I decided to block an account for the first time today. I usually pride myself on never blocking anybody, even though some people say some pretty hurtful things about me. I genuinely think it’s important to read contradicting view points and not get trapped in an echo chamber.
But this account, which was created just this month, seems to have been made with the sole intent of harassing me and insulting my family. I hope we can all agree that this is not okay and something we should wholly reject from the community.
I know that many of you are frustrated with some of our recent decisions, but just know that we see the feedback and are thinking of ways to address many of the valid concerns without sacrificing on our mission and vision for Pokémon GO.
Anyways, now that I’m (temporarily) back from parental leave, I’m hoping to chat with more players around the world to gather feedback and also help better communicate what we’ve been up to and why. You may see me pop up here and there, and if you do, don’t be afraid to say hi!”
In a nutshell, this incident serves as a reminder to maintain a respectful environment online, even when dealing with contentious issues. Steranka’s experience is unfortunate, but his response offers a lesson about the importance of maintaining a positive space for interaction in the digital world. The account in question has been deleted in the meantime.
P.S. This article was updated in the meantime to reflect an editorial mistake. Details in this tweet.