Seven members of Congress are writing the leaders of 15 video game publishers on Friday to ask how they reply to, and mitigate, extremist and harassing habits of their online communities.
A draft of the letter, revealed Thursday night by Axios, cites the newest “Hate and Harassment in Online Games” report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to specific the lawmakers’ concern. The ADL has revealed a research of extremist and poisonous online habits every year since 2019. The present report, launched on Dec. 6, says “[a]n estimated 2.3 million teens were exposed to white supremacist ideology,” in online video video games spanning Fortnite, Roblox, Apex Legends, and the Madden NFL sequence.
“We are writing to better understand the processes you have in place to handle player reports of harassment and extremism encounters in your online games,” say the seven lawmakers, all of them Democrats. “Authorities around the world like the United States’ Department of Homeland Security and the EU’s Radicalisation Awareness Network are taking notice and launching investigations into how extremists use online gaming spaces to radicalize young people.”
Axios mentioned the letter could be despatched Friday to the company management of Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Microsoft, Riot Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Square Enix, Take-Two Interactive, Tencent, Ubisoft, Valve Corp., and the makers of Among Us, Roblox and PUBG. Notably, Nintendo of America was not included.
The lawmakers ask the businesses what information they gather “on in-game player reporting mechanisms and automatic bans for inappropriate behavior,” and whether or not they would think about “releasing those data in regular transparency reporting.” They additionally requested the businesses how they establish “extremist content in your games,” and whether or not they have insurance policies in place to deal with it.
Their letter shouldn’t be a subpoena or a summons to look earlier than a committee. But Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) instructed Axios that “parents like me with young kids are going to be paying attention to how they respond.”
The ADL’s newest report says that solely Roblox Corp. “has an explicit, public-facing policy against extremism.” As for transparency, it notes that Microsoft final month revealed its first report on online moderation, the habits reported and noticed on Xbox Live, and the actions it has taken in response.
Otherwise, “hate and extremism in online games have worsened” for the reason that 2020 report, the ADL says. “For the fourth consecutive year, the already-high rates of harassment experienced by a nationally representative sample of nearly 100 million American adult gamers increased.” The 2022 report notes that it has now collected information on “harassment experienced by pre-teens ages 10-12.”
The report notes that the accused shooter within the May 14 mass homicide at a Buffalo grocery store espoused white nationalist sympathies and attributed his radicalization to a player-made game referred to as “Blood and Iron” on the Roblox platform. That game, launched in 2009, recreates the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century and references a speech made by Prussian president Otto von Bismarck 50 years later, calling for the unification of German states.
The report and letter additionally observe a New York Times story, revealed Wednesday, that mentioned the person who attacked and critically injured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband on Oct. 22 wrote that he was radicalized by Gamergate, the right-wing online motion begun in 2014 that continues as a backlash to variety and inclusion in video video games and different popular culture media.