Gaming hub Steam has a serious Nazi problem

HuffPost found thousands of user groups on Steam dedicated to Nazism, school shootings, and general racism.

 

Tess Cagle

Internet Culture

Published Mar 12, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 10:04 pm CDT

While President Trump zeroes in on the potential relationship between video games and violence in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, a report published in HuffPost last week argues that violence stems from video game users—not the games.

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HuffPost delved into the world of Steam, an app owned by Valve Corporation that boats 125 million users, and its connection with a Virginia teen who shot his girlfriend’s parents in December. The publication found that users like the teen—who boast extreme rhetoric about hating transgender people and supporting a white revolution—were more than common in the community.

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Steam combines features seen on Amazon Prime, Facebook, Slack, and Reddit, and allows users to chat, make friends, join groups, and buy and play games in one social and commercial hub. But it appears that the alt-right, a loose connection of white supremacists, has infiltrated the app to radicalize teens while they’re still at their most impressionable.

HuffPost found that a basic search in the groups tab for words and phrases like “Nazis” or “Jews” or “school shooting” brought up thousands of results, including thousands of user groups that support Nazism, school shootings, and racism—and Valve doesn’t seem to hasty to rid it’s app of the hate speech.

One of the more troubling aspects of the hate speech is that other users often think they’re just trolling, even though actual Nazis have confirmed they use humor to confuse impressionable internet users. While many users perceive the posts as jokes—and therefore not threatening—others take the comments dead seriously and become emboldened to act on their impulses.

So far, HuffPost’s research has garnered mixed reactions. Some say Steam shouldn’t be blamed if an incredibly small portion of its base becomes shooters, while others say the app should be held accountable.

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*First Published: Mar 12, 2018, 4:39 pm CDT