Xbox boss Phil Spencer is no stranger to talking about toxicity, inclusiveness, and what can be done to improve the online places where people congregate to play games. Spencer has gone on record more than once to talk about the topics and even published his own lengthy blog post discussing the subject, and in a new interview with Kotaku, he’s once again shared his thoughts. He expanded on some of the perspectives he shared in the blog post and decidedly said “Xbox Live is not a free speech platform.”
Spencer’s blog post which was published on May 20th gives some insights into his talks with Kotaku and a better understanding of what was discussed, so give it a read if you haven’t already. He told Kotaku about the timing of that post’s publication and said it was connected to Microsoft’s “Gaming for Everyone” push that seeks to make Xbox’s platforms more inclusive and accessible. Spencer recognizes that there might be those who aren’t crazy about the direction Microsoft is heading but stressed that those individuals won’t have a right to say whatever they want to others in these online communities.
“The only reason we published it now is, just as we’re making progress in Gaming For Everyone, as we’re going to do more things in our services, as we’re beefing up parental controls, there’s going to be a fringe segment that doesn’t like the direction we go,” Spencer said. “I’ve been public before: Xbox Live is not a free speech platform. It is not a place where anybody can come and say anything. And as we’re working to ensure it’s a safe and inclusive environment for everybody, I don’t want to be opaque about it. I want to be out there front and center so that you understand our motivation.”
Spencer’s comments about Xbox Live not being a free speech platform shouldn’t be too surprising to those who use it, certainly not those who have ever been banned for something they’ve said. With chat policies and moderation that prevent players from lobbing aggressive or offensive comments or phrases towards other players, there’s always been some level of restriction on what you can say and do. Microsoft is simply tackling this issue more now and is doing so with the help of other features like the “Looking For Group” friend finder and by giving players the options to put more restrictions on their own account if they want.
“And so all of this is about taking, one, a lot of the controls that are already in place and are really focused on a child account and expanding them out, and then continuing to build on this,” Spencer said. “The blog post was kind of to not miss the “why” in why we are doing this.”