Be careful what you ban for, Microsoft

I'll say "dick." I may use silly stand-ins for other profane expletives--shiz, freak, arse, snitch, and whatnot (that last one, sadly, isn't a curse). But if someone's being an out-and-out jerk, or I want to refer to my penis colloquially, I'd readily drop the D word. I just better make sure I don't say that in a Kinect video I upload to Xbox Live--because as Reddit user MakVolci discovered this past weekend, doing so can result in a 24-hour ban from posting videos in the Xbox One's Upload Studio app. Besides evoking the Big Brother vibe that everyone feared with Kinect, it begs the question: Does Microsoft have their priorities straight?

"We take code of conduct moderation via Upload Studio very seriously. The team reviews every clip that is uploaded to the service to help maintain a clean, safe and fun environment for all users," a Microsoft spokesperson told CVG News. The story goes that this user, dubbed MacedonianWolf on Xbox Live, said the word "dick" in a Kinect video; what followed was a 24-hour ban on uploading Kinect or gameplay videos altogether. Seems there are folks at Microsoft who really do watch everything you upload--and if you offend them and their sensibilities, you're liable to get a time-out before you can post anything else.

Terms of service agreements are there for a reason, but come on--the last time I read one of those was…actually, does it even matter? What are those banned expletives, anyway? The Internet may never fully know, beyond the process of ban-worthy elimination. The Xbox Live Code of Conduct does state that users cannot "share/create any content that is offensive or discriminatory, or advocates discrimination, hatred, violence, or promotes organizations devoted to that purpose." I don't think MakVolci's utterance of the word "dick" falls into any of those categories, unless the very mention of a phallus shocks and appalls you. If that's the case, it's a wonder how you're on in any capacity.

Microsoft's stance on the matter also appears to be in flagrant opposition to society's increasingly lax standards on profanity. Agencies like the FCC have smartly deemphasized individual words, choosing instead to focus on the context of their use. The word "dick" alone has no power. If I tell someone to go take a jolly ride on a dick carousel, that's undoubtedly profane. But calling your team-killing buddy a dick in casual commentary during a Kinect-recorded video seems positively trivial. Only the most puritanical enforcer would deem such an off-handed remark flag-worthy. Apparently, said enforcer also happens to be an employee at Microsoft.

I haven't watched MakVolci's video in question, and if Microsoft has its way, I never will. But my gut tells me that its contents don't justify a 24-hour ban on uploads, especially when there's so many bigoted, hateful, more offensive people lurking in the dregs of Xbox Live and the Internet at large. In truth, its shocking how offensive a person can be without ever uttering a single profane word.

If Microsoft really is stepping up Xbox One policing, that's within its right as a company. But it needs to make sure it's banning the right people for the right reasons, not wasting time and resources with inconsequential offenders. In other words: just don't be a dick, Microsoft.


  • itsme - November 27, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    I feel the author has no ideal what was in the video and to say your "gut says it wasn't that bad" is not based on fact. You have no way of knowing. It could be that bad. Someone had to complain for them to even know about it. You tell people to be careful as if big brother was watching is unfounded. If it was like you say it would be a rash of people being banned. Did you check this persons rating to see if he has been a jerk on line and have a pattern of doing jerky things? Do you do any kind of investigation to see what kind of person he is to see what lead to the ban. He knows what he did because if he didn't he would be banned again. But, you have no ideal what happened and you end with this "If Microsoft really is stepping up Xbox One policing, that's within its right as a company. But it needs to make sure it's banning the right people for the right reasons, not wasting time and resources with inconsequential offenders. In other words: just don't be a dick, Microsoft." You have no ideal what this person did. Maybe he was the right person. Then that would make the whole article pointless. It's sad to see this article is what "journalism" had devolved. No facts just people making opinion peace without calling them that. You really need to step your journalism game up and your editor need to be reprimanded for not doing their job. I don't work for Microsoft and I would have posted the same if this was about Sony. I just hate article that have no facts or investigation, and are opinion pieces that pretends to be facts.
  • ainokea - November 27, 2013 10:25 p.m.

    I feel you have no idea what the hell you're talking about. "Excessive profanity and other code of conduct violations will be enforced upon. On Xbox One, we have a more sophisticated system of enforcement. As a result, if someone misbehaves on the service, we may only suspend some of their privileges on Xbox Live such as access to certain apps or use of certain features" Taken from the actual article this is based off of. The point of the matter is, this is the internet, it is an unrateable experience, trying to regulate things like this is pointless and stupid and further detracts from your audience. Do you even realize how much of an outrage it would cause if Youtube started policing its videos for excessive profanity? Further, just because someone "COMPLAINED" about something doesn't mean it was actually that bad. People are just dicks.
  • itsme - November 27, 2013 10:36 p.m.

    That's the point. No one knows why or what was pulled from Microsoft's service and this site makes an entire article about a topics they have no information on. This article makes no sense because they have no information. This article doesn't tell you what to do not to be banned or anything. It's useless just to get you to click.
  • Shigeruken - November 29, 2013 4:59 a.m.

    You've missed the entire point of the piece.
  • Cwf2008 - November 29, 2013 1:38 p.m.

    "The team reviews every clip that is uploaded to the service to help maintain a clean, safe and fun environment for all users," a Microsoft spokesperson told CVG News." So no, no one reported it. According to this statement, they look at every video uploaded (How? Probably voice recognition software or something like that) and if they hear a bad word they can choose to ban it. Here's the thing: Trying to regulate the internet is like trying to regulate the flow of traffic in LA: Impossible. Ya, we don't know the context, but do you really think someone is going to be stupid enough to post a video where they're talking about putting their dick into something, or you think it's more likely that he's calling someone a dick for something they did in a game?
  • Darkhawk - November 27, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    hell damn fart
  • ainokea - November 27, 2013 6:22 a.m.

    WOOH YES MICROSOFT Finally banning these assholes. Wait, what? You're banning people who SAY the word 'Dick'? Not the people actually showing off their dicks? Ugh, great, that's more time I'm spending away from Uno.
  • g1rldraco7 - November 26, 2013 9:06 p.m.

    I understand that Microsoft wants to keep things clean, but really banning someone because they said dick is just stupid. Somehow Microsoft forgot that we have freedom of speech and yet why do they want to monitor what we say? This is one of the reasons why people go to Sony since they don't censor over little things.
  • Eightboll812 - November 27, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    In all fairness, Sony does this too. They bleep out words in the text chat. I'd bet they bleep out the same word. Where you are dreadfully wrong about free speech is that you don't have free speech to use someone else's website. You are free to create your own site and post your own videos, but you aren't free to use another website however you want. That's where T&C's become important. Neither of us are free to say anything we want here on GR. We aren't free to yet "FIRE" in a packed movie theater either. I can stand on the corner and yell a sermon about how horrible our government is, but I can't demand a radio station air my speech, which is analogous to what we are talking about here. MS's site is their platform, their medium. I don't have any inherent right to be able to use it however I want and to deliver whatever message I want. I can only do what MS allows, and apparently they have a very strict filter on what they allow.
  • FoxdenRacing - December 2, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    My phone stars on the voice to text thing too...that doesn't strike me as any big deal. The question that's more important to me, does Sony ban people for doing it?
  • Eightboll812 - December 2, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    No, they don't. At least I know of "infractions" (lol) that didn't result in any reprisals from Sony.
  • FoxdenRacing - December 2, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    Cool, good to know. Thanky kindly.
  • Danomeon - November 27, 2013 1:35 p.m.

    Freedom of speech doesn't apply when you're using a private service or product. For example, telling people "I will kick you out of my movie theatre if you speak during the production" isn't a violation of the first amendment because the person agrees to abide by the rules of the establishment when they go to see the movie. Similarly, Microsoft can tell people they don't want swearing on the xbox one. I agree that this is dumb, but there's no free-speech-rights trampling going on here.
  • FoxdenRacing - December 2, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Freedom of Speech, in the US context, is the freedom to truthfully criticize the government [slander and libel laws still apply] without fear of reprisal...not a guarantee you can spew any filth you please from your pie-hole at any time, in any place, with no consequences.
  • g1rldraco7 - December 2, 2013 4:42 p.m.

  • Darklurkr23 - November 26, 2013 9:04 p.m.

    So what know i can't talk in front of my tv? I gotta watch EVERYTHING i record beore uploading in case of a ban? God amn!
  • Sy87 - November 26, 2013 7:34 p.m.

    Dick isn't a word needing censorship. At least it's not like the dude stripping his drunk wife. Besides Microsoft was soles responsible for creating a side business from UNO and the camera option. I do agree with the adults only section. They did something like it with child avatars, which is kinda creepy. Plus it be best to let the kids play with other kids, and I hate their voices, while the adults curse at each other like sailors or actually work as a team and not goof off like the kids. Damn Microsoft can be dicks sometimes.
  • pinoklin - November 26, 2013 7:07 p.m.

    I guess microsoft is being a bunch of....dicks
  • Eightboll812 - November 26, 2013 6:06 p.m.

    This gets a "meh" reaction from me. If they could have an "adult" upload area and a kid area, you might have a better point. But you have to assume since it's a console with "E" games, and if you don't have a similar category system for the uploads, you are getting kids watching the videos. And if you say "police your kid" as a response, I'm just going to go ahead and slap you. It is frustrating enough that you have to choose to either block youtube entirely or stand over your kid the whole time they are on youtube, since the content filters are typically site by site, not individual content on sites. Youtube has it's benefits as well as garbage. The way I see it, unless there is way to have a parental filter system on the site, you have to assume it's lowest common denominator, which is "E" in terms of game equivalency. And if you think dropping the dick word every other sentence is "E" friendly, well, we can just agree to disagree in advance. I actually support MS on this particular issue. If they create a parental filter for their site that allows the big kids to have their fun while keeping it clean for the kiddos, then I'd whole heartedly join your outrage over their content policing over in the big kid pool.
  • Shigeruken - November 26, 2013 7:03 p.m.

    They did have separate gamer 'zones' for players who didn't mind profanity etc, but the setting changed nothing due to Microsoft's laziness. These bans are an extension of that laziness, they are unwilling to compensate for the modern gaming environment through any form of parental filter, as you have suggested. This annoys me, as I'm worried about where this might be headed. What counts as my personal space and what counts as the space policed by Microsoft when their peripheral is in the room?

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