After the terrible 2019 shooting in New Zealand’s Christchurch mosques, over 100 profiles on the Steam gaming platform honored the shooter.
Steam is a digital video game store with some social networking features, and not the most obvious home for loaded political content. But just a few hours after the shooting, 66 Steam profiles took on the shooter’s name. Dozens more soon followed. At that time, the Christchurch gunner wasn’t the only terrorist Steam users had thought of. Hundreds of Steam sites referenced massacres in Parkland, Isla Vista and Charleston.
Steam publisher Valve has removed profiles that point to subsequent filming in Christchurch Kotaku reached for a comment on an article. The fact that so many people ̵
“There is very public recognition for a lack of content moderation.”
Daniel Kelley, Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League was released today, a 107-year-old non-profit organization founded to combat identity-based discrimination his report on “how the Steam platform hosts extremists”.
“It was unsettlingly easy for ADL researchers to find Steam users who advocate extremist beliefs by using a language associated with the ideology and subcultures of the white Supremacists, including key words, general numeric hatred symbols, and Acronyms, “the report said. In a random search, the researchers found hundreds of Steam profiles that use their user names, profile pictures, posts or bio descriptions to advertise pictures of Nazis or white Supremacists.
The sample size of the ADL is not significant enough to confirm that extremism is widespread on Steam or more common than on other platforms. However, it highlights how little Steam has done to address a long-known issue. “It is an effective platform for extremists because the lack of moderation of content is widely recognized,” said Daniel Kelley, deputy director of the ADL Center for Technology and Society. “According to the 2020 standards, their approach is very outdated and does not correspond to other social media and gaming companies that are increasing their efforts to make their platforms respectful and inclusive for everyone.”
Steam is known for moderating content uploaded to its platform. Although Steam’s community guidelines prohibit discrimination, “abusive language,” and “offensive content,” a 2017 vice report found that groups with titles like “Nazi Revolutionary Party,” “Hitler’s Nazis,” and “Zhe Nazi Followers of Razor_One.” “persisted there. At that time, the term “Nazi” returned 7,893 search results for Steam groups. Following similar reports from the Huffington Post and the Center for Investigative Reporting, Valve tacitly began to remove extremist groups and profiles mentioned in the press. It was not a complete clean up. Even today, the search for the term “Nazi” on the Steam community page has returned more than 21,000 results.
Valve has had mixed results and moderated the content of games its users sell. The company published a blog in 2018 that justified this liberal approach. Regarding the games on Steam, it says: “The right approach is to let everything in the Steam store”, with the exception of offers that are illegal or “direct trolling”. The post argued that based on this philosophy, Valve should focus more on creating tools that allow users to control what types of content they see. This is the digital equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears. However, some games have crossed the line: Valve was removed in 2018 Active shooterwhere the player commits a school shooting and removes a game called in 2019 Day of rapein which “you can rape and murder during a zombie apocalypse”.
“White supremacist subculture deals with bigoted humor, shit posting and memes,” said Joanna Mendelson, deputy director of the ADL Center for Extremism. “All of this serves to normalize extremist ideology and hatred. You can find the same subculture on Steam. “
The ADL report points to several notable extremists whose reports included Nazi imagery or idioms, including the former leader of a small international hate group whose previous Steam profile names contained racist and neo-Nazi references. Although they had a “Community Ambassador” badge according to the ADL report, their biography contained references to Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler and other Nazi figureheads. Jarrett William Smith, a former U.S. soldier who talked about killing Antifa members and who pleaded guilty to sharing instructions on making bombs on social media, praised the mass murder game hate, sold on Steam. In encrypted wire chats received from the ADL, Smith shared pictures of himself as a Muslim person and also suggested, “The baste [based] naturally plays as Hitler. “(Before its release, Steam briefly removed the controversial game, but Valve CEO Gabe Newell restored it himself.)