You may have missed it, as this has been an unusually crazy news cycle even for this class, but Valve announced on Tuesday even that its on-line shopfront Steam now offers a Chat Filtering feature. The software has been in beta since August, and was initially built by Valve for popular multiplayer games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It allows users to “ customize the speech they see from others on the platform ” in all games that support the feature of speech .
With Chat Filtering enabled, Steam users will see “ normally used strong profanity and slurs ” as kernel symbols or asterisks rather of words. This is on by nonpayment when chatting with people who aren ’ thymine on your friends list, and off by default for people who are. You besides have access to a custom percolate list, which updates your personal experience instantaneously, and shares the data with steam to improve its trickle ability .
I have conducted across-the-board testing on this have in its current state, by getting my Steam friends list to swear at me for about an hour, which was harder than I thought it would be. The chew the fat filter merely wipes out the entire parole in which a track blasphemous term is present. The filter is heavy burden towards permutations of the F-bomb, but less common terms of profanity can sometimes skate by as function of a larger word, i.e. the ill-famed “ Scunthorpe problem. ”
In Valve ’ s master announcement, the term “ supporting games ” is carrying a lot of chain mail. While the sport may be complete and available, it doesn ’ t seem that it ’ sulfur universally applied on a node grade, and no number of games that explicitly support Chat Filtering seems to be available at time of writing .
That does raise the interrogate of why this abruptly became a precedence for Valve. For about the entirety of Steam ’ randomness universe as a platform, many of its most popular games, including Valve ’ s own Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike, have had at least some significant multiplayer component, and as anyone who ’ s ever played more than an hour of any on-line game can attest, the communities that spring up around them are often among the most toxic places on the Internet. By rights, one would ’ ve expected Steam to have gotten a old world chat filter years ago.
It does make feel in the context of current events, however. There ’ sulfur been a bunch of lecture this summer about the custom of unfiltered on-line spaces as tools for radicalization, peculiarly in the context of the QAnon conspiracy theory. As far back as 2011, there have been scattered reports of bang groups and even terrorist organizations using in-game chew the fat applications to spread their political orientation. There was a particularly ill-famed case last year, reported on by Vice, regarding a white-nationalist group that formed a club in World of Warcraft .
Valve ’ s debut of the Chat Filtering system came out correct at the close of business on the West Coast on Tuesday, a little over an hour after Facebook announced that it would ban all groups and communities on its servicing that supported and spread QAnon.
While Chat Filtering had been in beta in Steam Labs for over a calendar month at the meter, the sudden debut does seem to suggest that Valve is trying to cover its bases in a time when any wholly unmoderated space, such as the peer-to-peer chew the fat in a multiplayer computer game, might end up being an attack vector for radicalization. While many of its users don ’ t take advantage of it, it ’ sulfur worth noting that Steam is vitamin a much of a social network as a digital shopfront, which renders it vulnerable to this sort of exploitation. The writing appears to be on the wall .
Valve launched Steam as a software client for product updates in September 2003. It was finally expanded into a full-fledged on-line shopfront for digital game sales on personal computer. While Valve is typically quiet about its user base, independent tracking sources such as SteamDB indicate that around 15 million players use steam to play and purchase personal computer games on a unconstipated basis. It reached a raw all-time peak of 24.5 million coincident users in April, breaking the former record that had been set not even three weeks beforehand .