Trahan Blasts Gaming Companies for Failing to Adequately Address Rising Extremism
Washington, March 2, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee, released summaries of gaming company responses to a December request from lawmakers for information on actions being taken to stem the rise of harassment and extremism in online video games. The initial request was sent after an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report found increases in hate, harassment, and extremism in the companies’ online games.
“Since I sent requests to gaming companies, I’ve heard from parents across the nation about how concerned they are with the increase in harassment and extremism in the games their kids play,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “After reading through responses from top gaming companies, I’m disappointed that the majority of companies failed to address some of our most urgent questions, including providing us with their policies around extremism, as well as transparency reporting around these topics. There is a lot of work ahead to maximize the positive benefits of online games and address real harms like harassment and extremism, but we need these companies to be partners in both those efforts – not just look at their games through rose-tinted glasses.”
According to ADL, the proliferation of white supremacy and other forms of extremism has also increased dramatically, with 15 percent of gamers under 18 years old and 20 percent of adults reporting encounters with white supremacy while online – more than double what gamers reported the year before. Additionally, 77 percent of adults and 66 percent of teens have reported experiences of harassment while playing online games, including three out of every five children.
Despite these alarming trends, a majority of gaming companies failed to address some of the lawmakers’ most pressing questions.
“We applaud Congresswoman Trahan and her colleagues for their leadership in confronting rising hate in online gaming spaces,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The responses from the gaming industry make clear that there’s too much hate in online multiplayer games and that their actions thus far to address hate, harassment, and extremism have been woefully inadequate. Our research has shown that 67 percent of young people experience hate and harassment in online gaming. We cannot allow the industry to become complacent and must continue to push them to create spaces where all individuals can safely use their products without fear of harassment or abuse.”
Some companies took the request from lawmakers more seriously than others. Innersloth, the smallest company of the 14 who received a request, described a strong community engagement program designed to engage with those most impacted by online hate and harassment. Roblox described partnerships with a number of online safety groups, an explicit anti-extremism policy, and efforts to comply with existing regulations on safety and transparency.
Due to House ethics rules, the full responses cannot be released because they contain nonpublic company information. A summary of each company’s response to the questions lawmakers sent can be accessed HERE. Nothing prohibits the companies from publicly sharing their own response.