How to use Steam’s new chat filters to block profanity and slurs

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Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, guides, and advice on how to easily get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff.

Today Steam revealed a new system called Text & Chat Filtering, which essentially allows you to customize what you see and don’t see in private spaces. You can choose which words you see and don’t see, even otherwise innocuous words that may be offensive or triggering to you. We’ll show you how.

Valve announced the new feature today via Steam Labs, its experimental space. Essentially, Steam bans profanity and slurs in public spaces, such as its forums, but is choosing not to do so for private spaces such as chat. This is to “empower users to choose what they see from others,” specifically “marginalized groups [trying to] reclaim language for themselves.”

But let’s assume you’re not trying to reclaim anything and would prefer Steam filter profanity privately as well. Here’s how you do that.

At the moment, the feature is in beta, so you’ll need to “join the experiment” in Steam Labs. However, all signs indicate this is likely to come to Steam generally. To find it, go to your Account page, then go to Preferences. Scroll down, and under Community Content Preferences, you’ll find something that says “Steam Labs Experiment 011: Text Filtering.” Click “Join the experiment.” Note that you can leave the experiment any time you choose.

You’ll immediately see several new options in this section. The first is whether you want to filter out profanity or slurs. You can chose to allow profanity but not slurs, or to obscure them with symbols if you choose. You can also choose not to do this for your Steam friends, as presumably some words will carry a different weight if they come from someone you know.

Next you’ll see the more granular controls over what language is filters. You can add words to filter individually, or you can upload a list of words. Ditto the other option: you can add words or upload a list of words that’ll never be filtered. You can also download lists of both words. Speaking as someone who uses profanity as a way of communicating with family (we all swear like sailors), there’s some profanity that doesn’t bother me and some that does. So these options allow you more control over what you’ll see and not see.

And that’s it! Now you’ll be able to control what you see in Steam chat more fully. Good luck!

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