Microsoft has lately been at the forefront of many initiatives to more closely and efficiently police online content, and not just on their own platform.
But now they’re turning that attention home, specifically to its Xbox Live gaming platform, and the community of gamers around it.
The tech giant’s Phil Spencer, who heads Xbox thus announced in a company blog post that the console and its ecosystem “must be a safe environment.”
Spencer pledged vigilance and a proactive approach to ridding the platform of what he termed “toxicity” and revealed that the Xbox Safety had a somewhat cringe-worthy nickname of “Defenders of Joy.”
He also promised, “proactive content moderation” that will give gamers “safe spaces” for discussion.
Little wonder then, that Spencer decided to sum this policy up in an interview with Kotaku as, “Xbox Live is not a free speech platform.”
He explained that this means safety and inclusivity trump all other concerns, but that inclusivity will not be absolute – not everyone will be able to “come and say anything.”
Spencer does not agree with the belief that most gamers are male, and warned about the “hate speech”, bigotry and misogyny he said the industry is rife with, at a time of its unprecedented success.
Oddly, the Kotaku article noted as a positive that the blog post about a gaming console, penned by the head of the product, spent zero time talking about games, focusing instead on speech policy and policing, and the politics of the industry.
Spencer also asserted that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in the past told him that he wants “the platform of Microsoft in gaming to stand for things that you guys care about.”
He said that gaming is for everyone, and “must promote” safety of everyone. As was the case with Microsoft’s recent initiative to step up content censoring when it comes to extremist material and make it industry-wide, the company seems to want to position itself as the leader in the effort to clean up gaming.
Spencer was short on detail when it comes how the moderation would be done, but did say the team tasked with carrying it out would grow.
Reporting about the blog post and the interview, Metro remarked that the head of Xbox spoke about cracking down on unwanted speech just as Twitter and Reddit are also getting “proactive.”