Valve Removes Over 100 Steam Tributes To Suspected New Zealand Shooter

A screenshot of a Steam profile displaying the name and image of the suspected New Zealand shooter before Steam removed his name from many users’ profiles.

The gaming platform Steam has cracked down on over 100 profiles memorialising the suspected shooter behind yesterday's tragic mosque shooting in New Zealand, which claimed the lives of 49 people.

Until around 5:00AM today, dozens of users of the PC gaming service were blatantly offering tribute to the alleged writer behind a white supremacist manifesto that takes responsibility for the New Zealand shooting.

These profiles tended to appropriate the suspected killer’s name and image, the most common of which appears to be a screenshot from a Facebook livestream of the shooting. One profile displays a GIF of the attack while others offer praise for his actions or refer to him as “Kebab Remover” or a “saint” or “hero”.

Early this morning, 66 profiles claimed the alleged shooter’s name, and in just three hours, that number inflated to over 100. Hours after Kotaku reached out to Steam for comment, however, the alleged shooter’s name disappeared from those profiles’ main pages, but still remains under a list of previous aliases. Still, new ones are appearing.

As of this article’s writing, there are just two users claiming or emulating the name of the suspected killer on both Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to nearly 100 pages that referred to or venerated the suspected New Zealand shooter, hundreds of pages continue to nod toward past mass shooters including perpetrators of massacres in Charleston, Isla Vista and Parkland and of the 2011 mass killing in Norway.

These profiles also appropriate these terrorists’ names and images, sometimes their mugshots or press images from their trial. Many have been live for months or years. Forty-five profiles referencing the Charleston shooter’s name remain live, including four created near the date of the 2015 attack.

“It’s very hard to speculate about why people do things on the internet. Internet culture tends to be steeped in irony and satire,” said Alice Marwick, an assistant professor of communications at UNC Chapel Hill, where she studies extremist content on social media.

“With that being said, a lot of the time this kind of irony and satire does cloak genuine hatred... I think when people take on the mantle of these people, yes, they could be ironic or edgelords, but even if you’re not emulating their actions, you’re emulating their belief system.”

For years, hate groups fostering Nazis and white supremacists have thrived on Steam, VICE Motherboard reported in 2017. Just one year later, The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that Steam acted as home for 173 groups “that blatantly venerate past school shooters”, including some described as “A group for all my fellow shooters” and “School Shooters are Heroes”.

Valve, the company behind Steam, has traditionally taken a hands-off approach toward moderating the content of games, groups and users’ pages that their platform hosts, which is what makes today’s moderation effort noteworthy.

Yet Kotaku reported late 2018 that Steam was quietly removing some of the hate groups hosted on it. “Various parts of the Steam Community are moderated by a combination of official Valve staff, community moderators, and representatives of the game developers and publishers,” Steam’s moderation document reads.

As of earlier this year, Steam hosted 90 million monthly users — a behemoth moderation task.

Public veneration for mass shooters contributes to the misguided and deeply demented “hero” narrative that helps spawn them, be it ironic or sincere.

Additional reporting contributed by Dhruv Mehrotra.


Comments

    As far as I'm concerned Valve should be terminating the entire Steam accounts of anyone glorifying this monster.

      But then valve would lose money.
      and Money makes the world go round.

      As nice as that might be, that poses some serious concerns over whether you actually own any of the games you've purchased, or what license you actually get or agree to when you purchase said games.

        Banning them from commenting and putting them on a watch list would be fine!

        IF they are indeed talking trash as well that is...

        Hey if you actively waltz around telling everyone that you support such violence, well!!!! This is how these things start... letting nut jobs grow and fester in public!

        Last edited 16/03/19 6:43 pm

        You don't and never have. You own a license to play or use the said product and at any time they can revoke it.

          Yes, that's what I'm driving at, but I imagine you'd have a case in countries with robust consumer law that wiping out your entire library of games might not be acceptable despite the EULA. Even at the moment Steam won't ban you from accessing your purchased games when you've violated the Steam EULA (even for eg fraud).

          Trying to extend that to community violations, even if they're pretty shit, is even less likely to be valid. The mere presence of an EULA and apparent consent doesn't make it automatically enforceable.

            I'm not 100% on this but I'm pretty sure that legally you dont own any games you buy on steam. You technically rent them. Similar to a car company renting you a car; they can legally take the car back at any point for breaching their EULA.

            Perhaps a less fraught option would be to ban them from all future purchases on the platform, alongside a community ban (no comments, reviews or other community interactions).

              They already do total community feature bans but reserve store-front bans/gifting for issues like fraud.

                Indeed, but I think for cases like this a 'refusal to do business' response is within reason. Their existing library would remain intact, Valve would simply refuse to take their money for anything else moving forward.

                  I don't disagree with that at least in principle - but Valve would fuck up the execution.

                  I think taking their money is fine, but they need some sort of "global mute". So that not only can they not comment on forums they can't speak in game. Of course that would be ridiculously hard to implement.

                  They could also have some sort of "naughty" indicator on the persons name in game. So other people would realise that the person in game with them is not a well behaved individual. Sadly, I think though, that would actually encourage some people to try to get that "tag".

        You dont own the game under most laws. you only own the license to use it, similar to a house title. The rights are reserved for the developer or distributor to terminate any said license so therefore, a refund does not have to be made

    I wish I could say I was surprised. I am not sure what would be more concerning, people who do this because they believe in losers like that guy and his helpers or those who just do this sort of digital rubbish for a laugh. I suppose when we have so many apologists in power these White Whatevers are truly beginning to believe their own press and encouraged.

    Not surprising, but I think it’s important to realise these dickheads are in the minority, regardless of how loud they howl.

      No idea why this would be down voted

        old mate's downvoting every comment on every article re: the shooting. Go figure.

          Good to know the cretins are everywhere

          It's not even those just linked to the shooting. They've cropped up on a few other articles even back to last month. Just someone with a chip on their shoulder.

        It's downvoted because, if your first gut reaction to this is to point out that quite a few people in the world are NOT mass murderers, or sympathisers of mass murderers... well, um, perhaps you need to reflect on why you are personally getting so defensive at this point.

        Last edited 16/03/19 5:25 pm

      thanks auto mod.

      Last edited 16/03/19 9:11 pm

      @angorafish any justification for the downvote?

        Doesn't usually comment. Only sits back and throws downvotes. Same with the other fellow.

          Ive left a comment on the other article tagging Alex with links to many article where Kethic just downvotes everything in the article. Hopefully something can be done

            kethic has no comments on their account. The likelihood is high that they're a sockpuppet for another more established user, using it solely for downvoting while avoiding retaliation. It's not the first time it's happened here, unfortunately. One past occasion with three or four accounts block downvoting me was I think why the sockpuppet rule was added to the terms here in the first place.

              Yeah I'm gonna Chuck alex an email as well just in case he missed my comment.

              I think you're right about Kethic being established. I'm pretty sure I first saw that user name years ago when whoever it was behind it kept putting me into false moderation by only down voting my posts regardless of the article I was commenting.

              It's tempting to just upvote everyone who has been downvoted by Kethic but I'm afraid of what more damage I'll do to the server side metrics.

                I think Kethic is a sock puppet account too. I bet he/she will downvote this comment like the first one I made. He/she has probably downvoted every comment in this article.

      As true as that is and as important as it is for people of good to remember that fact, I wouldn't trumpet it around too much. "It's just a handful of whackos, stop panicking" is a favourite refrain of the more decent-passing bigots to deflate and discourage action after an incident of this type and we shouldn't contribute to it.

      They may be a minority, but as this guy showed, you only need one of them to produce dozens of casualties. Do not disregard them for being few. We as a society must strive not to tolerate any number higher than 0.

    I feel like any company that has clientele impersonating or glorifying any terrorist should be permanently removed. We aren't talking about morale grey areas, terrorists are monsters and the fact that companies like Steam and Facebook allow such accounts to be active within their ecosystem is disgusting.

    Fucking pigs. But yeah, not surprised either unfortunately.

    Good move by Steam. They know mainstream media are gearing up the usual "let's blame video games" stories that always come out after terrible events like this.

      Pretty sure that's not the primary motivation here.

        Not the primary reason, but it still plays a part.

        He has a point tho. AC and other shows like it have very recently done this, and there is a high chance they will capitalize on it. There already doing it in the US calling the guy a 'MAGA' and trump supporter, which is pretty stupid to give he is not American.

        Then there the manifesto. Have not read it, but people who have to say he's calling himself an 'ecofascist'.

        From Wikki: Ecofascism is a theoretical political model in which a totalitarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the "organic whole of nature" and which would rely on militarism, expansionism, and possibly racism to defend the land.[1] Throughout human history there has never been an ecofascist government.[1]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecofascism

      The mainstream media arent even looking in that direction. Let's keep a level head for now shall we?

      (Edited on the 18th) well. That didn't last long. Now they are. Some things will never change :/

      Last edited 18/03/19 2:39 pm

        Oh yes they fucking are.

        Just this morning Sunrise had a correspondent on air talking about a dinner with other journalists where many of them had remarked how the footage looked like 'a violent video game' and how the psychopath was 'reportedly addicted to these sorts of games'.

          Just going to point out they werent for the two days that I made that comment and it was valid til that timeframe. It's clear the excuses are starting up now. Which sucks but it was at least good but unusual to get that 48 hours of level headedness.

          I wonder why Sunrise never says games influenced Mon Monis...

        It was literally the front page headline of the sunday mail today. "Friends and family of terror suspect say he was radicalised by violent videogames."

          It's silly of them to do today, but the last two days it wasn't the narrative. What we're going to see now is people searching for an answer, trying to blame anything they can. He's an evil, murderous, racist, bigoted piece of shit. That's all he is. No excuse will replace that fact.

            It's coming from the family as well, although they're undoubtedly searching for answers themselves.

            What we're going to see now is people searching for an answer

            Even if they find one, I doubt it will give them closure.

              Indeed. I feel hollow today. Our Muslim students held a moment between classes, a 10 minute prayer thing a lot of students attended. I went to it. Was good to see everyone united. Horrible it was due to this :(

      Already the case in Australia. The Australian morning news on channel 7 has already started pointing the finger at Video Games the other day.

    F to pay repects

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