School Shooter's History of Racist Posting Discovered on Steam, Spotlighting a Critical Issue in Moderation


December 7th brought a tragedy once more within the halls of a High School as William Edward Atchison shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself in New Mexico. The tragedy is one that many feel is becoming far too common, but more details have come to light about the shooter's daily life and it does bring up another issue that many wonder if it's more connected than previously realised.

The Daily Beast uncovered another uncomfortable truth to Atchison while digging through is online presence. It seems that he was a part of many alt-right and extremist groups, including that of The Daily Stormer. He was also an avid PC gamer, and disturbing behavioural patterns were easily tracked through his online activity on the popular gaming client Steam. Among his 77 reviews on games offered through the client, many of them outwardly reflected a very hateful daily view.

One example showed a peek into his alt-right loyalties when reviewing Wolfenstein, a game primarily about killing Nazis:

"It was revolutionary for [its] time. The problem i have with it is the fact that you spend the entire game killing germans - killing white people." his review continues on to defend Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany's brutal extermination of Jews. The topic of Valve's monitoring policies for its more community based outlets have been in question for a long time, but events like this put a glaring spotlight on online communities. Like many similar sites, Steam is riddled with hate groups that are as blatant as the sun and it doesn't really seem like there is any particular care in how to deal with it. Freedom of speech comes into play in a lot of arguments, but does that mean groups outwardly promoting death/violence to those different than them should also be protected?


Since the shooting, Valve has banned much of his content, though some of his art can still be viewed. The question is ... should these patterns be taken more seriously and not easily dismissed as "that's just the internet"? With crude groups on clients like Steam blatantly named "Nazi's 2.0" and the like, is it time we stop pardoning this type of behavior? Could accountability have prevented yet another school shooting? Or is it not correlated at all, and the communities should be left alone to their own devices?


(via Motherboard)