'Xbox Live is not a free speech platform', says Microsoft's Phil Spencer

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has set out his vision for the future of Xbox Live and how he wants to make it an ‘inclusive environment for everybody’.

Following a recent blog post, where he described video games as ‘a unifying force for the world’, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has spoken more about how he wants to reduce toxicity online.

‘Xbox Live is not a free speech platform’, he told website Kotaku. ‘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 centre so that you understand our motivation.’

‘I think the anonymity of the internet and the ability to comment to anybody is a really difficult place to unlock’, said Spencer. ‘One of the things we find in gaming that’s actually really helpful to us is that because your Xbox Live account has friends and identity and state, there seems to be – and it’s good – there seems to be a lot more care that a player takes in their identity and its reputation.’

Spencer’s comments come at the same time as social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit begin to proactively crack down on far right and hate speech, after years of only reacting when there’s public outcry.

‘If you imagine gamers as predominantly men and specifically teen boys, think again’, wrote Spencer in his original blog.

He celebrated gaming for its increasing cultural impact but warned that that success, ‘comes at a time when digital life includes a growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny.’

‘Our Xbox Safety team is nicknamed the ‘Defenders of Joy’ because we will defend you in every humanly and technologically possible way, so gaming remains fun’, added Spencer.

‘Hate and harassment have no place in gaming’, insists the Xbox boss. ‘We will identify potentials for abuse and misuse on our platform and will fix problems quickly. We are also intent on expanding the composition of our safety team so wide-ranging perspectives can help us identify future safety problems and solutions.’

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