A new feature has been added to Steam that allows users to tweak their Steam Chat settings to obscure profanity or specific words. The option, which was initially developed for use within certain online multiplayer games on Steam, has now become a feature of the platform itself too.
The functions of the new feature go pretty deep: while there's a pre-loaded list of words that Steam considers worth censoring, you can curate your own list of words and phrases you'd rather not be exposed to—or that you do want to see. The feature doesn't remove comments, but it obscures the offending words with '***' or '♥♥♥' instead. There's also the option to view profanity and not slurs (which is an excellent choice for people like me, with the heart of a mermaid and the mouth of a sailor), as well as to make certain language visible when it comes from friends but not when it's typed by a stranger—with Steam emphasising the rights of marginalised groups to choose to reclaim derogatory language for themselves as the reasoning behind the decision. You can also turn all censoring off, if you prefer.
While some Steam users have welcomed the news that they can now opt out of seeing words or phrases which are particularly upsetting to them, others have expressed concern that Valve are putting too much onus on users to tackle offensive behaviour themselves rather than having in-house moderators deal with it. There's also the issue that just because you didn't literally see the curse or slur in question, it doesn't mean you don't know full well what was said. In other words, the filter is a good tool for making players feel more comfortable and in control while using Steam, but it isn't a replacement for other measures against harassment.
If you want to start tweaking Steam Chat now—or if you'd prefer to switch it off entirely—you can edit your settings and customise your filters by going to Community Content Preferences under the Account > Preferences tab on Steam.