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Valve may be able to act in time.
Russia may soon block a key feature of the hugely popular gaming network Steam.
The Steam community forums, maintained by Valve Software, has been listed on a registry of sites set to be blocked by the Russian government. The reason? Someone made a post about smoking pot.
The forums are currently accessible, though they may be blocked on Tuesday, when employees at Russia’s Internet service providers return to work. It’s possible, however, that Valve can prevent censorship of its forums.
Simply put: If Valve doesn’t move quickly to appease the Russian government’s demands, millions of Russian gamers will see access to their place for socialization disappear.
This started when a Steam user wrote a post titled “20 Reasons to Smoke Pot.” Though the post was originally published in 2011, it seems that the government has only just now found it. Russia has strict laws that are purportedly rooted in protecting children from objectionable content, and the Russian Internet watchdog group Roskomnadzor said on its VK page that it sent repeated notices to Valve regarding this post. These notices allegedly went unreturned.
The Steam gaming network will still be operational if the Russian government should decide to block the forums tomorrow, reports Russia-based TJournal. The two services operate on different domains; the “objectionable content” was found on steamcommunity.com, and the Steam gaming network runs on store.steampowered.com. If the forums are taken offline, Russian gamers will still at least be able to play their games.
Valve maintains a Russian Twitter presence, but only tweets from the account about once a month.
A Valve representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Illustration via Valve
Dylan Love is an editorial consultant and journalist whose reporting interests include emergent technology, digital media, and Russian language and culture. He is a former staff writer for the Daily Dot, and his work has been published by Business Insider, International Business Times, Men's Journal, and the Next Web.