There’s nothing quite like the American belief that depicting violence is better than exposing teenyboppers to a few “shits,” “goddamns,” and “douchebags.” That’s why movies depicting the systematic killing of children can keep their PG-13 rating only if they censor the word “fuck,” and is loosely related to one of the reasons why beheadings were briefly available to view on Facebook even though illustrated nipples were enough to get the New Yorker temporarily banned.
Apparently this is why Microsoft is monitoring a service meant to capture footage from video games, many of which feature more bloodshed than a constantly-repeating GIF of the seminal moment in “Carrie,”and suspending users for swearing. The policy was revealed in a statement released in response to allegations that the company is monitoring the Skype calls and video uploads of Xbox One owners.
Here’s the full statement, as provided to both TechCrunch and Polygon:
To be clear, the Xbox Live Policy & Enforcement team does not monitor direct peer-to-peer communications like Skype chats and calls. Also, we take Code of Conduct moderation via Upload Studio very seriously. We want a clean, safe and fun environment for all users. Excessive profanity as well as other Code of Conduct violations will be enforced upon and result in suspension of some or all privileges on Xbox Live. We remain committed to preserving and promoting a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all of our Xbox Live members.
The good news is that Microsoft says it isn’t monitoring ostensibly private communications between Skype users. (The same can’t be said of the National Security Agency, which is reportedly able to collect information from those communications through the PRISM program.) The company isn’t banning users from its service because of anything they said during phone or video calls — it’s simply blocking them for “excessive profanity” in their public videos.
The bad news is that this policy is misguided. It’s limiting ways that adults can communicate with other adults while recording videos of themselves playing games that were probably made for adults. (Gamers must be 18-years-old or older in order to sign up for Xbox Live, which is required to use the upload service.) And it’s not consistent in its enforcement: several gamers have reportedly managed to upload videos captured from the profanity-laden “Battlefield 4,” according to Polygon.
Microsoft has created a system through which gamers can be barred from using many of its services if they swear too often even as they record videos of themselves playing violent video games that also feature profanity, despite the assumption that many of those uploading the videos are older than 18 and are legally able to purchase cigarettes, go to war, or have sex.
Hopefully Xbox Live will pardon the expression, but fuck that. This is a hellish policy, and I hope it comes back to bite Microsoft in its puritanical ass down the line.