One of the topics that Phil Spencer discussed in his recent interview with The New York Times was that of toxicity on Xbox Live and how the brand deals with it, which led to some interesting insights from the Head of Xbox.
To start with, Spencer pointed out that Xbox has A.I. tools in place to "highlight when a conversation is getting to a destructive point," with messages actually getting flagged if the automated system sees that it's going too far:
"We will give the people in the thread a note that says, hey, this is getting to a point where we see it’s becoming destructive. So either calm it down or we’re going to shut down the conference."
He also mentioned that there's "a full team of policy and enforcement that follows up" on reports when people use the "Report A User button", which he says are "really, really critical to help the community".
"What we find on our network is when people are misbehaving, we have a report function that’s built right into the social connections that people create on our platform. If we ban somebody’s account, we really have the ability to impact somebody’s gaming identity and what availability they have. Now, there’s work for us to continue to do in this space. I’m not trying to position this as a done effort. But it’s somewhere we continue to invest."
Following on from this, he highlighted that Microsoft is utilising various technologies to help with Xbox Live safety, and the company shares them with other gaming partners ("I don’t think gaming wins by one platform being safer and other platforms not being safe") — and in an ideal world, he'd also love to see cross-platform bans being implemented:
"Something I would love us to be able to do — this is a hard one as an industry — is when somebody gets banned in one of our networks, is there a way for us to ban them across other networks?
Or at least as a player, for me to be able to bring my banned user list, because I can always block people from my play. And I’d love to be able to bring them to other networks where I play. So this is the group of people that I choose not to play with. Because I don’t want to have to recreate that in every platform that I play video games on."
Xbox Live was most recently in the news back in December after original Xbox creator Seamus Blackley retweeted a sexist Xbox Live chat recording from a Halo Infinite player on Twitter, stating that it "wasn't the future for Xbox Live we envisioned" — pleading with Microsoft and the Xbox team "to openly talk about it and address it as a problem."
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