Far-right groups that often employed Nazi-inspired language have long been able to create ugly little dens on Steam without facing too much resistance. Last year, Valve quietly deleted many hate groups in the wake of sustained reporting from publications like Vice, but Steam’s owners weren’t comprehensive in their approach, leaving many questionable groups unscathed. Now a German regulatory body has said that it made the company delete over 50 instances of user-created Steam content that referenced Nazis.
German television and radio regulatory body the Media Authority of Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (commonly abbreviated to “MA HSH”) said in a recent release that it got Valve to remove 30 user profiles and 28 wallpapers that it deemed illegal under German law, citing the country’s Interstate Treaty On The Protection Of Minors. It pointed to people with usernames like “Führer” and “Holocaust,” as well as groups with names like “Reconquista Germania.” It noted that in Germany, this kind of language is only permitted in “exceptional cases,” such as “if its use is for research or teaching, or if it is criticism or satire.” These profiles and groups, the regulatory body decided, were clear violations.
“With a few exceptions, Steam removed all content, including the group ‘Reconquista Germania,’ which in its group description demanded the extermination of world Jewry,” wrote MA HSH (via GamesIndustry.biz), as translated by Jalopnik features editor Raphael Orlove.
The regulatory body said Valve also promised that it would do a better job of training community moderators so as to prevent “future violations.” Kotaku reached out to Valve to learn more about its plans, but as of this publishing, the company had yet to reply.
In the meantime, it seems like Valve still has a ways to go when it comes to cracking down on hateful content. As with many tech giants, its current method is inconsistent and characterised by pressure from outside forces, whether that means news publications, regulatory bodies, or in recent cases, mass shootings. Valve is a massively wealthy company with vast resources, so it really has no excuse for its scattershot approach. And yet, as the MA HSH points out: “Steam is very popular with older children and adolescents because of its many options. However, right-wing extremists also use the platform to propagate their propaganda and recruit new followers.”