Xbox users no longer able to ‘smack talk’ under new Microsoft terms of services

Xbox users no longer able to ‘smack talk’ under new Microsoft terms of services
Xbox users may see themselves banned for using “offensive language” following Microsoft’s updated terms of services which have triggered outrage and accusations of censorship among gamers.

Microsoft, which owns Xbox as well as Skype and Office, has updated its terms of service to ban “offensive language.” Starting May 1, users could see their Microsoft accounts suspended or deleted for breaching the new rules. Xbox Live users will likely feel the effects of the ban most of all, given the tendency for players to engage in ‘smack talk’ whilst playing.

“In the Code of Conduct section, we’ve clarified that use of offensive language and fraudulent activity is prohibited,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We’ve also clarified that violation of the Code of Conduct through Xbox Services may result in suspensions or bans from participation in Xbox Services, including forfeiture of content licenses, Xbox Gold Membership time, and Microsoft account balances associated with the account.”

Before the latest update, Xbox rules had a reference to the use of “profane words or phrases” in its terms of service. The new update will likely cover a greater amount of language, prompting concern that the broader term could pose a threat to free speech and see Xbox Live users booted off the platform for making an insulting comment to their opponent in the heat of a game.

According to the services agreement code of conduct, users are told not to “publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence or criminal activity) or Your Content or material that does not comply with local laws or regulations.”

While Microsoft doesn’t detail how it will enforce these new rules, it did say, “When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue. However, we cannot monitor the entire Services and make no attempt to do so."

Those who are found to be in violation of the terms may have their Microsoft account closed. “We may also block delivery of a communication (like email, file sharing or instant message) to or from the Services in an effort to enforce these Terms or we may remove or refuse to publish Your Content for any reason,” Microsoft added.

The updated terms include a clarification stating, “when you sign up to Xbox Live or receive Xbox Services, information about your game play, activities and usage of games and Xbox Services will be tracked and shared with applicable third party game developers so Microsoft and the third party game developers can operate their games and deliver the Xbox Services.”

Despite the new terms and services extending across Microsoft products, the content of Skype messages and calls are protected by end-to-end encryption.

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