Valve has undertaken a move to delete Steam profiles containing Nazi symbolism, following an interaction with the German broadcasting regulator, Media Agency Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein (via Game Rant).
The swastika and other images of the Nazi regime are counted under the Strafgesetzbuch section 86a criminal code in Germany. Exhibiting these sorts of symbols outside the contexts of “art or science, research or teaching” is illegal. Symbols such as the Sig rune, the “Heil Hitler” greeting, the Reichsadler using the Nazi swastika, and the Reichskriegsflagge must only be used in literature, television shows, films, and other works of art. This criminal code is the reason why the German release of the Wolfenstein games were modified to work within the clause, for example portraying Adolf Hitler as a clean shaven “Mr. Heiler”.
Valve has been criticised for letting hate groups gain a grounding on its digital distribution platform with its laissez-faire approach to curation of content. In 2018, the company started to remove Steam profiles who were affiliated and engaging with these groups, but it left out a handful of problematic profiles. However, Media Agency Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein spoke to Valve and explained that these profiles pose a risk to young people using the platform. Valve then deleted 28 wallpapers and 30 user profiles that were employing Nazi symbolism and imagery.
“With a few exceptions, Steam removed all content, including the group ‘Reconquista Germania,’ which in its group description demanded the extermination of world Jewry,” said Media Agency Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein in a press release. As a result of their conversations, the German broadcasting regulator also divulged that Valve will train its moderators more efficiently and appropriately to avoid this happening again. This is a promising move from the video game company, and it is hoped that Valve adopts a comprehensive and informed approach to censorship and curation in the future.