US Congress Presses Big Video Game Companies To Combat Harassment And Extremism

Lawmakers from the US Congress announced they will send a letter to some of the world’s biggest video game companies, demanding to know what actions they’re taking to fight against “harassment and extremism” in their games.

As reported by Axios, the reaction from the seven Democratic members comes after a recent report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that revealed that extremism in online gaming communities is on the rise and worse than last year.

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For example, ADL’s investigation disclosed that nearly one in ten gamers between ages 13 and 17 had been exposed to white supremacist ideology and themes in online multiplayer games.

Also, 86% of adult gamers between 18 and 45 (over 67 million people) reported having experienced harassment in online multiplayer games, while 66% of underage gamers (more than 17 million kids) declared experiencing harassment.

Among the lawmakers that will co-sign the letter are Reps. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, Katie Porter of California, and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Moved by this concerning data, the members said: “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, and ask for consideration of safety measures pertaining to anti-harassment and anti-extremism.”

The letter is directed to some of the biggest video game companies in the world such as Activision-Blizzard ATVI (“Call of Duty”, “Overwatch”), Microsoft MSFT (Xbox), Sony SONY (PlayStation), Take-Two Interactive TTWO (“Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2K), Tencent’s TCEHY Riot Games (“Valorant”, “League of Legends), Epic Games (“Fortnite”), and Electronic Arts EA (“Battlefield”, “FIFA”).

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"Online Multiplayer Games are more than media and entertainment outlets–they are social spaces where people of all ages connect through concerts, protests, conversations, and more," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt explained in an interview with Axios.

And he concluded: "Sadly though, ADL research has shown for the fourth year in a row that these spaces are being increasingly filled with hate and harassment. It’s time for players, parents, lawmakers, civil society, and communities to require more from the companies who profit off players’ interactions.”

Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

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