Gaming Companies Secretly Partnering with FBI, DHS to Monitor Extremism —Report

Federal agencies are quietly collaborating with major gaming companies to monitor and root out domestic extremist content on their platforms, according to a new government report. 

The report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals previously undisclosed partnerships between the the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and companies like Roblox, Discord, Reddit, and others.

The FBI and DHS have established ways to share threat information related to domestic violent extremism with gaming and social media firms. DHS’s intelligence office holds meetings where companies can flag concerning online activities that violate their policies. The FBI’s field offices also receive tips from these companies about potential extremism and law-breaking for further investigation.

While no federal law criminalizes domestic violent extremism outright, the government employs five threat categories spanning racial, anti-authority, environmental, and abortion-related violence. The efforts follow rising concerns after the January 6th Capitol attack that extremists are radicalizing and organizing online, including through gaming platforms.

Source: GAO

In 2021, the Biden administration’s national strategy for countering domestic terrorism identified online gaming as a space for “recruiting and mobilizing” extremists. A previous 2019 intelligence assessment also warned violent extremists could exploit popular games like Fortnite and Roblox.

However, the GAO report cautions the FBI and DHS lack an overarching strategy aligning this work with their core missions. It recommends both agencies develop such plans by June 2024, which DHS has agreed to do. Legal concerns over free speech rights have also prompted caution.

“Without a strategy or goals, the agencies may not be fully aware of how effective their communications are with companies, or how effective their information-sharing mechanisms serve the agencies’ overall missions,” the GAO wrote in the report.

The partnerships have drawn criticism from civil liberties advocates and gaming personalities like Twitch streamer Hasan Piker, who questioned the FBI’s ability to properly identify extremism. 

“All I can think of is the awful track record of the FBI when it comes to identifying extremism,” popular Twitch streamer Hasan Piker was quoted on The Intercept. “They’re much better at finding vulnerable teenagers with mental disabilities to take advantage of.”

Information for this story was found via GAO, the Intercept, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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