The Twisted Tale Of Deleted Destiny Data

There are some things gamers can universally identify as excruciating. A console dying right when you bring home an anticipated game stings. The power going out in that spot between beating a boss and saving your game hurts. Having your MMO characters and all of their gear destroyed is devastating.

The latter of these is where our story begins, and where we thought it would likely end when we were made aware of it on February 19. It all began with an 11-year-old boy named Henry, youthful naïveté, and an act of pure maliciousness that touched not only the child, but an entire New England family.

On February 13, Henry was playing Destiny online with friends when he encountered a user that offered to help the boy cheat his way from level 31 to the current maximum of 32. There is no such glitch or exploit, but the other user convinced the child to turn on the PlayStation 4’s Share Play feature and then virtually hand over the controller.

What followed was a heartbreaking few minutes of Henry watching his two higher-level characters deleted and then his final exotic weapon scrapped. After politely and bravely confronting his aggressors, the video closes with Henry sobbing.

Bungie later shared the video as we worked to confirm its authenticity as more than a prank. When Henry’s mother reached out to us the following day, she told us that she posted it on her YouTube channel only to make Bungie aware and, as a result, had received disturbing messages questioning her parenting skills, why she let her 11-year-old play Destiny, and why her son was trying to cheat.

We thought the story would come to a close there. We had reached out to the account responsible for deleting the data and received no response.

Two days later, the story took a very strange turn. We received an email from a woman claiming to be the mother of the person who owns the account that deleted Henry’s data, who we’ll call “Adam” to protect his identity. At the time of our conversation, Adam had received hundreds of harassing and threatening messages as a result of Henry’s video.

We were told a confusing tale that seemed farfetched at best and fantastical at worst. Adam was involved in a head-on collision on November 1, 2014, and had been recovering at home since. As one of 11 children, Adam’s home sees a great deal of traffic from loved ones, friends, and less-familiar acquaintances. Despite the complexities of the story, the assertion was clear. Adam was framed,
and a visitor to the house was to blame.

We verified the car accident via police report and confirmed other personal details shared by Adam and his mother. With that knowledge, we opted to publish the story as an interview online. We were unable to ascertain Adam’s innocence, but wanted to share the other side to help complete the picture.

What followed were accusations about the authenticity of Adam’s claims and our own prosecution of the story. As a result, further accusations against Adam came to light. Henry’s incident wasn’t the first, and the account had allegedly perpetrated the same transgressions as early as October 31, the day before Adam’s accident. Adam’s mother was reading the same comments on our story and emailed me to let me know she had identified the person who was really at fault.

 On February 24, we followed up with Adam and his mother. We spoke by phone, at which time we learned more about “Chris,” the troubled young man who had been a guest in their home.

Chris is 17-years-old and was present on every day connected with a report of harassment by Adam’s account. Furthermore, Adam was not home on October 31; he was with friends for Halloween. Chris was at his home, visiting with other members of the family.

We spoke with Chris by phone. What followed was a challenging conversation with someone devoid of remorse. When we asked him what he had to say to his victims, his response was that they should “suck it up.” He told us he didn’t feel he owed Adam and his mother any words of regret for all the pain and harassment he caused.

While these events force us to question our online interactions and how we treat one another (and might be treated ourselves), there is a happy ending. Bungie had banned Adam’s account in response to the video. He called us a few days after our final story ran to let us know he was able to play once more.

As for Henry, he made some new friends. A number of Destiny players, including the Dads of Destiny clan and others, helped Henry level new characters and recover as much progress as possible. A number of our readers reached out with kind words for the boy, and some of fered to purchase him the expansion pass or hand over their own PSN accounts.

Despite the despicable chain of events that led us to Henry and Adam, the end result is cause for hope. There are good people out there. The Internet is certainly a minefield, but there are safe havens.

This story is a reminder to be safe with your data and interactions, but also that not every aspect of human nature is one to be feared.

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