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I've long been a victim of trolling on that platform. I haven't posted in months and I don't intend to again. However, I still keep having a problem with stalkers sending me harassing messages and slandering me on boards for games I play. I've tried using the report option, but its rare for anything to get done and even when something is done it doesn't help in the long run.

To make matters worse, I was thinking of starting to play some of my games online. However, this would draw attention to me and I don't want that.

I was planning on changing my avatar and name. However, I can do nothing about my post history. Its publically visible now, which is the main reason why I get so much trolling now. No matter how far back my last post was, it always appears near the top of my profile. I can do nothing about that. I could go back and delete all my posts, but there's over 2,000 of them. Also, looking through them some of them are in threads that have been locked, meaning that I have no way to edit them now.

I really don't know what to do. I don't feel safe on that platform anymore. Seemingly everything from banal posts to my freaking avatar and name gets me merciless harassment and ridicule and I'm utterly helpless to do anything about it.

What can I do? I can't just make a new profile, because I can only access the games I've bought through the one that's being stalked. Can I do nothing to ensure my own safety on the platform? What, do I need to change my screen name after every match I play online just to keep people from looking me up? This is so utterly stupid. I hate the platform, I regret buying my games through there. I just want to be free of it forever but then I could never game again. This is a very frustrating experience.

Even though I've stopped posting for months people still find me and assail me. I can do nothing it seems- maybe changing my avatar will help, but that's about all I can do. Is there anything that I can do to improve my privacy and safety on the Steam platform?

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    A lot of multiplayer games online nowadays have a "streamer mode" which generates a random name which is displayed to other players. This is generally done to prevent "stream sniping" where players who realize they're in the same game as a streamer can pull up the stream to gain an advantage. If any of the games you're playing offer this feature, you can take advantage of it to keep yourself anonymous.
    – Redbomber
    Mar 26 at 14:05
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    If you ask Steam Support and explain your situation they might detach your post history from your user. Assuming you're actually a victim here and not just reaping the consequences of your own actions. Mar 26 at 14:51
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    @ScottishTapWater So basically asking Steam to make a moral judgment of what is right or wrong.
    – pipe
    Mar 27 at 10:04
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    @Pipe - Well this is almost certainly going to be outside of their SOPs so they're unlikely to go out of their way to help an arsehole... but might be more inclined to help someone who's not at fault Mar 27 at 13:32
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    @pipe Like it or not, we do indeed ask corporations to make moral judgments quite frequently these days; the most public version of this is called "content moderation". Mar 27 at 16:14

2 Answers 2

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  • Most importantly: set your online status, in the Friends & Chat menu, to Invisible or, even better, to Offline.
    This can also be done quickly by clicking 'Friends' in the top menu:

    enter image description here enter image description here

    Not only will this make you appear offline to friends, it will also make you appear offline to anyone checking out your (mini) profile through any of your posts or other contributions:

    enter image description here

    I am actually online here, but have set my status to 'Invisible'. The last time it was set to 'Online' and I interacted "publicly" (like playing a non-private game or leaving a comment) was 26 hours ago.

  • To be safe, you can also disable the automatic signing in by going into Settings, Friends & Chat, and disabling "Sign in to friends when Steam client starts":

    enter image description here

  • Set every game you play to private by right-clicking it, selecting 'Manage', and 'Mark as Private':

    enter image description here

    This way, people won't be able to see you're playing it, nor will any activity be visible on your profile.

  • Set your profile to Private. Go to Steam's Settings, under 'Account' click 'Privacy Settings', and set 'My profile' to 'Private' using the dropdown menu:

    enter image description here

  • In Steam Settings under Notifications, you can disable any notifications, so it's harder to be reached (and annoyed :).

  • Depending on your situation, this may or may not be helpful, but you can censor chat messages under 'Store Preferences':

    enter image description here

This will help being less visible. Of course, in some multiplayer games your profile name will default to your Steam username. If it's unique or very specific, you still might get reactions based on it. Ignore those (like any hateful comment). Always make sure to check your online profile in the game before playing.

While your messages are still visible, and you might still get reactions to them, at least you will not be notified or approached through chat.

[D]o I need to change my screen name after every match I play online just to keep people from looking me up?

If after every game you play you manage to rile up new people so much they want to seek you out, you might just engage too much. My apologies if I misinterpret this, but try to play games for the enjoyment of the game, not to criticize anything. You're playing to entertain yourself, and can't change the world through it.

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The ultimate answer for starting over: Make a new account and share your library with yourself. I'll explain more below, but consider the following:

sending me harassing messages

As pointed out in one of the comments, people who are not in your friends list cannot send you messages. For your privacy, remove these people from your friends list and don't accept friend requests from people you don't know. Accepting random friend requests is antithetical to privacy.

I was thinking of starting to play some of my games online. However, this would draw attention to me and I don't want that.

Why would playing games online draw attention to you? Is it possible that there is something about your interactions with people while playing games online that incites them to post about you? I'm not saying that they're right or wrong (since we don't have examples of what they're saying about you), but from your description let's assume that they're genuinely being terrible people who are hounding you. Why? What kind of interactions are you having with people? If this is typically the result of things that you're saying to them, perhaps reevaluate the level of engagement you're having. Engaging with people inherently reduces your privacy, so if you're concerned about privacy, consider reducing the types of interactions you are having which are producing these results.

I could go back and delete all my posts, but there's over 2,000 of them.

Try reaching out to Steam's customer support and requesting that they delete your posts for you. Alternatively, just delete them yourself. Yes it will take a long time to remove them all, but doesn't that solve your problem? Which is worse, the stress that you say you are experiencing because of people, or spending a weekend deleting posts which aren't locked? It sounds like you've identified the solution to your problem (excluding the locked posts), but don't want to follow through on it.

I can't just make a new profile, because I can only access the games I've bought through the one that's being stalked.

Look into "family sharing" or library sharing. You can authorize access to your library to your friends. Just make a new account, spend the $5 to legitimize it, send a friend request to yourself, and share your library with your new account. You don't want to delete the old account, but this way you get a fresh start with no post history and a name that people don't know or associate with your other account, while still having access to your entire library. My brother and I have shared libraries and can access all of each others games when one of us isn't playing. If you own both accounts, there should be no problem.

What, do I need to change my screen name after every match I play online just to keep people from looking me up?

Why are people looking you up? Perhaps some consideration of the interactions you have could inform ways to change and not have so many negative interactions.

I also used to get into arguments a lot

This is probably the biggest cause of people bothering you. Is it possible that you are still getting into arguments with people in game while playing online?

Steam has plenty of ways to maintain your privacy. However, from your own admission of having thousands of posts and getting into arguments, it honestly sounds like you made this situation for yourself. Try contacting customer support and see if they can delete posts for you. Or make a new account and share your library with it. But most importantly, identify the behaviour patterns that lead to this situation, learn from this, and don't do it again. You can't have privacy and be a public figure. The more you put yourself out there, the less privacy you have. You seem to have a lot of anger directed towards Steam, but they didn't make you write the posts or engage people online. Taking responsibility for your actions instead of blaming a game retailer will help you grow and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

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    @user8600 Right, keep things in perspective. It's a platform for playing games, not for arguing about things. The more you argue, the more trolls will want to mess with you. It sounds like you advertised that you're susceptible to being trolled. Now, I don't want to offend you, but you do sound like somebody who wants to impress people, and may be a bit insecure. For example, you say that you're a programmer, and that's why you can generate random numbers. Anyone can generate random numbers in a heartbeat. Weird boast, might make people troll you. Mar 26 at 3:05
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    @user8600 bear in mind that while people wouldn't be able to search for you by username (changeable), anyone that's taken a note of your steam ID (unchangeable) will not be inconvenienced by a screen name change at all
    – bertieb
    Mar 26 at 9:36
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    I'm not sure it is appropriate to get into what the OP has said on Steam. We have enough information to get an idea of what (tends to) transpire(s), and they are aware of it, too. I realize you're probably asking it to be able to help in a more direct and focused way, but I think our answers together will be sufficient for suppressing the trolling while retaining a general appeal :)
    – Joachim
    Mar 26 at 10:56
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    Also note that while Family Sharing is a great solution, it doesn't include all games. Best to check out beforehand if it includes the games one plays the most.
    – Joachim
    Mar 26 at 10:57
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    It very much depends on the advice being given. OP's exasperated statement that they would be forced to change their screen name after every match played online very much suggests that this is somehow an ongoing problem that playing a match online causes further harassment (more so than the harassment based on past activity). Which does beg the question precisely what is happening in that online match that would warrant changing your screenname again.
    – Flater
    Mar 26 at 12:32

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