Valve Takes Down More Than 100 Steam Profiles Celebrating Suspected New Zealand Mosque Shooter

Most used the suspected killer's name and image, including screenshots from the livestreamed shooting video.

16 Mar, 2019FORTUNE.COM

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Valve Corp.’s Steam has removed more than 100 profiles from the popular gaming-platform that memorialized the suspected gunman in the attacks on two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people Friday, the gaming-news site Kotaku reported.

Kotaku counted more than 100 profiles that appeared in a matter of hours after the shooting and that “were blatantly offering tribute to the alleged writer behind a white supremacist manifesto that takes responsibility for the New Zealand shooting.” Most of the profiles used the suspected killer’s name and image, including screenshots or GIFs of a Facebook livestream made during the shooting, the site said. Others offered praise for the gunman’s actions.

After Kotaku contacted Valve for a comment, all but a few of the tribute profiles disappeared. Nonetheless, Steam still hosts “hundreds of pages [that] continue to nod toward past mass shooters” in recent shootings in Charleston, Isla Vista, and Parkland, the site said. Many of those pages also include the name and images of the shooters involved in those attacks.

Last year, Valve adopted a policy to “allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling,” saying the policy would help the company “focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam.” That decision followed the company’s move to pull a role-playing game called Active Shooter after some people, including parents of the Parkland school shooting, protested the game. Earlier this month, Valve also removed another controversial game titled Rape Day from Steam.

Kotaku noted that Valve has taken a hands-off approach to moderating content in its games, profiles, and user groups, although it quietly removed some hate groups late last year. In March 2018, the Center for Investigative Reporting identified 173 groups on Steam that “blatantly venerate past school shooters.”

Earlier on Friday, Facebook scrambled to remove a video that livestreamed one of the shootings on the two mosques in Christchurch where the attacks took place. Twitter and YouTube both waited for several hours to remove copies of the video from their own platforms.

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