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.

Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.