Activision Blizzard executive blocks own employees on Twitter in wake of harassment lawsuit

Frances Townsend, Activision Blizzard exec

Activision Blizzard executive Frances Townsend has been blocking employees on Twitter.

In the wake of the current sexual harassment lawsuit, Townsend tweeted an article from The Atlantic on the problem of whistleblowing.

The timing and content of the tweet is no coincidence, with the company in the midst of serious allegations of abuse.

The gaming giant is being sued by the California Department of Fair Education and Housing after being accused of “frat boy culture” for its treatment of women and marginalised people. Multiple stories have come to light of specific harassment and an infamous ‘Cosby Suite‘.


An internal email from Townsend, the executive vice president for corporate affairs at the company, was released publicly following news of the lawsuit.

She states that the lawsuit presents “a distorted and untrue picture of our company”, describing it as “meritless and irresponsible”.

Activision Blizzard employees later staged a formal walkout against the company’s response to the lawsuit, this email in particular.

On Twitter, many people have criticised Townsend for sharing the whistleblowing article including requests for her to resign.

Instead of deleting the tweet, she has instead been blocking employees who respond.

There remain plenty of negative responses from others, however.

Prior to working for Activision Blizzard, Townsend was Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush and a torture apologist in the war on terror.

Bush-era memos on interrogation methods – including waterboarding, forced nudity and sleep deprivation – were declassified by Obama. Townsend was interviewed in a 2009 CNN blog, stating: “Regardless of what you think on the issue of whether or not waterboarding is torture, there were legal documents created and relied upon by career intelligence officials who then implemented the program.

“There were very strict controls on the program. These people relied on them and, now, to release them and to subject these people, these career professionals to a sort of public humiliation and opprobrium and then the potential of a congressional investigation really will make our intelligence community risk-averse.”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick apologised for the company’s “tone deaf” response to the lawsuit and promised they would “do a better job of listening now, and in the future”.

However, the law firm Kotick has hired to review policies and procedures – WilmerHale – are considered an anti-union firm. Their website even states they advise “on union awareness and avoidance”.

As such, there’s concern the review may not be in the favour of employees.

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