The Anti-Defamation League proposes that ‘Minecraft’ should examine the feasibility of player verification and global block lists to counter ‘hate and harassment’

The Anti-Defamation League proposes that ‘Minecraft’ should examine the feasibility of player verification and global block lists to counter ‘hate and harassment’

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has proposed that Minecraft should consider the feasibility of “player verification and the global block list” to combat hateful behavior.

Minecraft (2011), Xbox Game Studios

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According to the recently published “Breaking the Building Blocks of Hate: A Minecraft Server Case Study”, states the ADL, “despite its ubiquity as an online space, little has been reported on how hate and bullying manifests itself in Minecraft, as well as how it moderates content.”

The organization added: “To fill this research gap, Take This, ADL, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, in collaboration with GamerSafer, analyzed hate and bullying in Minecraft based on anonymized data from January 1 to January 30. March 2022 provided by consensus from three private Minecraft servers (no other data was collected from the servers except anonymous chat and reporting logs used in this study).”

Source: Minecraft: Story Mode (2015), Mojang

Despite the possibly small sample size, not to mention the use of private servers instead of public ones, the ADL makes several claims “After examining chats and user reports from data provided by GamerSafer.”

In summary, they argue that nearly one-fifth of offenders had “multiple actions taken against them during data collection” and that “temporary bans proved to be an effective solution to reprimand misbehavior,” being more effective than silencing in reducing abuse. offensive behavior.

Source: Minecraft Legends (2023), Xbox Game Studios

“Servers with detailed community guidelines were associated with more positive social spaces” and “server rules seem to matter more than the application of moderation in setting communication standards,” were other conclusions reached by the league. They also posited that hateful messages were 21% more likely to be in public chats, while sexually explicit messages were 9% more likely to be in private ones.

“The analysis further suggests that hateful rhetoric has become normalized in gaming spaces,” states the ADL. “The presence of slurs previously only affiliated with white nationalism and hate groups suggests the normalization of extreme language in gaming spaces. Sexually explicit language occurred 3 times more often than hate speech.”

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Based on its findings, the ADL made several recommendations. These included “increasing researchers’ access to data” alongside watchdogs “to identify and address the challenges of hate, bullying, and toxic behavior in spaces intended to have positive social impact.”

They also recommend “Invest in strong community guidelines and content moderation efforts” with “Active and effective human moderation” and “Further research on content moderation and complementary tools and techniques.” The latter would include investigating the “relative influences of strong server rules and high staffing rates on levels of hate and harassment.”

In addition to “determining the long-term and aggregate effects of moderator intervention,” the ADL also seeks to investigate the “impact of tools and techniques that enable player accountability and go beyond moderation, such as player verification.” player and the global inclusion in the list of players banned for serious harm”. . These measures can add liability and minimize recidivism.”

Source: Minecraft Legends (2023), Xbox Game Studios

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“This work highlights the importance of granting third parties access to game data. Allowing researchers to access unfiltered data, while protecting the privacy of user data, can provide unprecedented insight into user-to-user interactions within gaming spaces and, more broadly, user interactions. users in online social spaces”, proposes the ADL.

“Without this level of data transparency, the industry will not be able to identify and address the challenge of hate, harassment and toxic behavior in online gaming spaces.” His proposal for global blocklists has already been answered to some extent, with a recent Java update for Minecraft introducing chat reports.

However, this gives Microsoft the ability to ban players from public and private servers. As the owner of the private server JewelTK highlighted, fans are concerned that it is open to abuse; such as reporting someone for their behavior on a private server, even if other players don’t mind, along with general reporting abuse.

Source: Halo Mash-up: Minecraft Evolved (2014), Mojang

The ADL has come under scrutiny for its work before, usually based on being overzealous to the point of paranoia or indulging in jokes. For example, consider anti-ANTIFA symbols and the phrase “it’s ok to be whiteas hateful. It has also been noted that they frequently recommend other organizations to routinely hire or seek advice from or similar associations to counter hateful content.

ADL’s latest claim was prompted by a 4Chan joke designed to cause others to overreact as it is an endorsement of white supremacy. They then claim that “real white supremacists quickly began promoting the campaign.” They too to insist similar happened with ok hand gestureother alleged 4Chan prank (insisting it was a hidden message endorsing “white power”) that the ADL and others fell in love with.

In games, the organization also criticized Steam, insisting that the platform “harbors extremists.” They cited a attempted mass shooter making threats through “a chat room on an online gaming platform”, “almost 200 unique Steam accounts who embraced and propagated Nazi and/or white supremacist ideology,” and “fanatical humor” like the references to Pepe the Frog.

Source: Minecraft Legends (2023), Xbox Game Studios

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In addition to citing his own survey — claiming that 23% of Americans “were exposed to extremist white supremacist ideology in online gaming” — the ADL itself even admits “evidence of widespread extremist recruitment or organization in online gaming environments (such as in Fortnite or other popular titles) remains anecdotal at bestand more research is required before broad-based claims can be made.”

Despite Steam existing TOS prohibiting abusive and discriminatory behavior, the ADL recommended more policies, more enforcement, “regular consultation with civil society groups from a wide variety of positions,” including civil rights groups, transparency reporting, and “regularly scheduled external and independent audits so that the public is aware of the scope and nature of hate and bullying. on the platform.”

Freedom of expression group Reclaim the Net condemned the ADL ruling and proposals for Steam, derisively stating, “When organizations become increasingly irrelevant, they have to create new enemies to stay funded.”

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