Since the beginning of November 2017, controversy has been swelling on the web. At the heart of this “affair”, the famous 18-25 years forum of the jeuxvideo.com website. Hundreds of users multiply hateful and violent comments and actions to put feminist initiatives into action. The power of the forum worries. The question on everyone’s mind is: should it be closed?
You have probably already heard of the 18-25 years forum of the jeuxvideo.com website. Originally dedicated to video games, the forum has become a real outlet for some Internet users. Since the beginning of November 2017, the forum has been at the heart of a controversy that crosses the boundaries of the virtual. Hundreds of Internet users have chosen the forum to showcase several feminist initiatives, explain our colleagues at Capital.
First victim, the “anti-roll number” project we talked about on Phonandroid. This number was set up to help women who are victims of street harassment. In just a few days, the forum shattered the project through hateful and violent, even dangerous, comments for its initiators. A journalist from Europe 1, Nadia Daam, was even the victim of threats following a column in which she called for the closure of the 18-25 forum of jeuxvideo.com. Is she right to support an initiative? Should the forum be closed? We have studied the matter.
Almost everyone knows about jeuxvideo.com. Created in 1997, this information site specialized in video games quickly became a reference in France. But not only that. Its influence has spread beyond the borders of France. Jeuxvideo.com has long been one of the most read sites on the French web.
Today it is the 24th most consulted site in France (according to Alexa). He has cradled generations of video game enthusiasts. The media giant Webedia made no mistake in buying it back from its creators. The site is a heavyweight on the web that has enabled Webedia to climb into the top 10 of French media (6th) alongside giants such as Lagardère or Le Monde. Abroad, jeuxvideo.com is more consulted than mastodons such as Le Figaro or Dailymotion. Its valuation is estimated at one billion euros. That’s how powerful this medium is.
One of the recipes for its success: its forum. Especially the 18-25 year old section, which has always been the most active. If at the beginning, the forum was originally about video games (but not only) with a rather “hackneyed” spirit (fake death of Jean Dujardin, escape from the BAC S subjects), the forum took an unexpected turn from 2010 on. Its members have grown, and some have given a new direction to this forum. If the topics have diversified (we talk about everything on the 18-25), the discussion space has also been the scene of many polemics where hate speech and violence have spread.
There is an ideological packaging of ultra-right, we find all the Zemmourian, Soralian, very reactionary vision of women. This is a recurring topic in the hysteria around this forum. Anything to do with sexual identity is of concern to these young adults, or post-adolescents. This translates into a completely irrational attack virulence.
It is with these words that Tristan Mendès-France, a teacher at Celsa and a specialist in new digital uses, sums up the situation of the forum 18-25 years of jeuxvideo.com in November 2017 at 20 Minutes. Forum users have grown up, some of them have become young adults with sometimes extreme ideologies. The forum has been repeatedly criticized for its hateful and violent statements on important societal issues.
The keyboard barrier makes some users uncomfortable. A phenomenon that can be found all over the web. But in forum 18-25 there is a concentration of that hatred. The initiatives that are taken there are so powerful that they end up crossing the barrier of the virtual and having consequences on the real.
Clara Gonzales, co-creator of the famous “anti-rollback issue” had to close her Facebook account. Pictures of her were spread all over the place on other social networks. She and her partner Ellliot Lepers say they get over 20,000 insulting messages a day. One individual even showed up at their homes and rang the bell several times before fleeing. Journalist Nadia Daam, author of the Europe 1 column, was “physically threatened”.
How can a forum be so powerful? Why is Webedia letting this happen? The owner of jeuxvideo.com is regularly singled out and accused of laxity. According to Cédric Page, in charge of jeuxvideo.com, it is very difficult to moderate such an importantforum. He declared in early 2017:
Very few understand the difficulty of moderating a free space of 200,000 messages/day.
He was defending himself again at the beginning of November 2017, when the new controversy broke out:
As host of Jeuxvideo.com, we take all possible measures to prevent this type of action from being organized on our forums.
However, these explanations remain very difficult to support. Our colleagues at Canar PC conducted the survey and discovered that despite the 400 volunteer moderators and 6 salaried community managers dedicated to this forum, Webedia’s actions remain anecdotal. Although there are legal limitations to Webedia’s action (a media can only report and remove illegal content), in the case of hateful and/or violent statements, the media reserves the right to remove them at its own discretion.
For on a forum or in comments on content, the media is responsible for the comments made there. For example, has the power to ban IP addresses of community members who are making hateful and/or violent statements. Something Webedia doesn’t do. Moreover, the moderation in general seems lax, says Canard PC, since even the titles of the discussion groups do not go through the moderation. It is easier to understand why there is so much slippage and controversy.
Faced with the many controversies, one question comes up: should we close the 18-25 years forum of jeuxvideo.com? In view of the consequences of certain actions, the question seems legitimate. But closing the forum does not seem to be the bestsolution. Radical, certainly, with a perhaps positive effect in the very short term. What’s next?
The forum is just a doorway to the release room. Close one door, another will open. Users will always be able to elect domicile to another jeuxvideo.com forum, or even from another site. This is one of the shortcomings of the Internet, the barrier of the virtual prevents concrete action. We see it with pirates, it is also true with those Internet users whose speech is completely “liberated”.
Closing the forum 18-25 years of jeuxvideo.com, is also punishing users who like to simply to exchange. That is, the majority of users. For if one hears about the 18-25 for its shortcomings, it is not representative of the community. Today, the 18-25 years forum of jeuxvideo.com is alone the first community in Europe united by and for video games. Although the topics have become more diverse, the community likes to meet there above all to talk about life in general. And there’s nothing prohibiting that.
Finally, we have the impression that Webedia is the only one who can manage thesituation. He’s the one who has the hand on his forum, his moderation. Whether it is impotence or laxity, there is no denying that Webedia is outdated and that there is an urgency. The challenge is daunting but not impossible. Closing the 18-25 years forum of jeuxvideo.com, no, but controlling it, yes. Many well-known brands such as Barilla, for example, have already announced that they will no longer advertise on the site. Enough to speed things up?
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