As global brands, console manufacturers have to be on guard against harassment and abuse toward their employees worldwide, especially for people who don't fit the narrow images of gamers upheld by some of the medium's most toxic adherents. Last week, Xbox Brazil video host Isadora Basile announced that she had been let go by Microsoft and says that the decision was motivated in part by the sexist abuse and violent threats she received in her time with the brand. In a new statement, Xbox denies that Basile's firing was influenced by the harassment she faced.
Basile, who was hired as a host by Xbox Brazil in September, tweeted about Xbox's decision to fire her on Friday. Having received rape threats and death threats in her time with the company, Basile says Microsoft chose to let her go so as to limit her exposure to such abuse. "At the end of the day, it seems I became too much of a problem," says Basile in a new statement given to Kotaku.
Earlier today, a Microsoft spokesperson provided a statement to IGN on the matter and denied that Basile's dismissal was in any way related to the abuse she faced (a similar statement was issued in Portugese on Xbox Brazil's Twitter last week):
We do not tolerate harassment or disrespectful behavior of any kind and we took action to support Isadora when personal attacks against her were brought to our attention. Last week's programming changes are unrelated. They are the direct result of our ongoing effort to reach more players in more languages with the real-time news and comprehensive information available from our global news outlet, Xbox Wire.
Basile told Kotaku that Xbox had been supportive of her in the face of abuse previously, noting an instance where the company had a Facebook Xbox fan page taken down for a post that objectified her. She, too, understands that Microsoft plans to consolidate its messaging under Xbox Wire, but maintains that limiting exposure to harassment is one reason Xbox Brazil has cited for its decision to move away from employing presenters. Apart from Basile's short news hits, the XboxBR YouTube has recently been uploading gameplay sessions hosted by a rotating cast of male streamers and tech-focused videos hosted by male YouTuber Detonando Gueek.
Issues regarding toxicity in Brazil's Xbox fan community are not new. Earlier this year, Motherboard reported on Xbox's decision to finally end its cozy relationship with Mil Grau, a Brazilian YouTube gaming channel that routinely harassed Brazilian journalists and espoused racist, sexist, and transphobic views.
"It was really a pleasure," Basile tells Kotaku of her time with Xbox. "There's a lot of awesome people on the Brazil team and it was awesome to have this time with them." Even if Microsoft's intentions simply are to run a leaner, more centralized news operation, the sudden ouster of an enthusiastic and committed host is odd, and is only made all the more disappointing considering her happiness and resolve in the face of all the harassment.