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Phil Spencer Says Xbox Is 'Not a Free Speech Platform' for Politics

dbilyliker

Member
well sure but they ban EVERYTHING... you can't even make fun of fucking north korea! even super mild shit like this KFC parody here


they even banned someone for having this one

which isn't political at all but just a bit of dark humor... they honestly go a bit hard on the people doing fun liveries, but I guess they need to do so for the age rating? not sure
looool

Some people are too sensitive for me to understand
 

DaGwaphics

Member
I cant say green crayons dont exist, but they can say green crayons exist?

damn politics.

Well, that's just factual.



I couldn't help myself.

@DryvBy I would advise just not playing games that you feel are too preachy (vote with your wallet) and let the creatives have the freedom to create the stories they want to tell (even if you don't like some of them).
 
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Tschumi

Member
I can think of an entire board of former GAFers (and maybe some stealthy remainers) who are now shitting bricks trying to decide between xbox and Woke Spencer
 
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RespawnX

Member
How many pages will it take until people realize, he‘s talking about alt right groups? We‘ll see. I‘m in favour of blocking extremist positions of any political view. Being gay or having black skin isn‘t so extreme but rather a human right and/or nature. But I understand that some people don’t know the difference neither want to know it. So I‘m okay with them been excluded from the party.
 
Lmao at anyone upset at this while still using NeoGaf, a forum platform in which the politics section was nuked out of existence, on a regularly basis.

It used to make me feel weird when I EviLore decided on it, but after a while, it made all the sense in the world to just keep it out of a place in which the focus should be on games in general.

Same for this move by Xbox, except they have voice chat communication involved - so that's where things may turn tricky in administrating without stepping some very fine lines.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius

In a new, in-depth interview with The New York Times, Xbox Executive Vice President Phil Spencer was asked about the connection between gaming and the polarization of American politics. To which Spencer said that Xbox is "not a free speech platform" and is designed first and foremost for games and entertainment.

Spencer discussed the idea of political and social radicalization with the New York Times.

"We see all positives and negatives of the human condition. We have people who propose to each other and get married on Xbox Live," Spencer says about Xbox's online services. "We also have conversations about politics and other things that happen. One of the things we’ve stated about our social network is we’re not a free speech platform. We’re a platform around interactive entertainment and video games. And we’re not there to allow all kinds of social discourse to happen on our platform. That’s not why we exist."

"We're not there to allow any conversation to happen on our platform," Spencer says, and more than that Xbox Live is simply not designed for that kind of politicization. "It's very difficult to come to Xbox Live and say, Okay, I want to go create a political party on the platform.'"

"You could kind of twist the tools and try to get there, but it’s just not set up for general-purpose conversations or community," Spencer says but, "It’s really set up for community around interactive entertainment and the games that run on our platform. And that’s the way we invest."

Fine, but you should not have it both ways. Either you are a free speech platform / can’t monitor and be responsible for everything said or the day someone makes a swastika livery or plans a murder or something you as a corporation are assuming legal responsibility of that and everything else said there… 🤷‍♂️.

Let alone defining politics (people defending the “you cannot separate politics or political thoughts from a book / movie / game”, which I do not even disagree with too much, and are tempted to agree with this speech without seeing deep concerning problems with it… well again… 🤷‍♂️)…

Free speech laws need redefining anyways: https://locusmag.com/2020/01/cory-doctorow-inaction-is-a-form-of-action/ ( this is a good in depth read about the ramifications of free speech in modern society… people are free to stop at the “government is not silencing you… sorted!” but it misses a huge change in society since modern free speech was enshrined into law, it is sad and criminal to ignore how it changes with fewer and bigger corporate overlords unaccountable to most governments controlling speech )
 
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reksveks

Member
Fine, but you should not have it both ways. Either you are not a free speech platform / can’t monitor and be responsible for everything said or the day someone makes a swastika livery or plans a murder or something you as a corporation are assuming legal responsibility of that and everything else said there…
I am slightly confused what xbox is trying to have it both ways regarding. Or is it for all companies?

They are pretty in line with the other social networks with their reading of section 230 aka they have a moderation policy but they doesn't make them a publisher making affirmative editorial decisions on all content posted on their platform so they aren't responsible for UGC.

Most free-speech platform that I am aware of still have a moderation policy, it's just to different levels.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
I am slightly confused what xbox is trying to have it both ways regarding. Or is it for all companies?

They are pretty in line with the other social networks with their reading of section 230 aka they have a moderation policy but they doesn't make them a publisher making affirmative editorial decisions on all content posted on their platform so they aren't responsible for UGC.

Most free-speech platform that I am aware of still have a moderation policy, it's just to different levels.

It is not just Xbox, but a lot of companies are trying to do active editorial review of content ( truthiness ) to appease some of their current or projected customer base without having the responsibility that comes with it. Twitter, Facebook, etc… are on the same path too.
 

chriskun

Member
For those who don’t like this I’ll give you all a little advice that you all used to give people (until your side lost), just make your own console or social network that embraces free speech, it’s that simple.
 

reksveks

Member
It is not just Xbox, but a lot of companies are trying to do active editorial review of content ( truthiness ) to appease some of their current or projected customer base without having the responsibility that comes with it. Twitter, Facebook, etc… are on the same path too.
I am not sure if the solution to let the users decide what is truth or not via doing no moderation is a good solution especially when they (social media platforms and creators) are generally getting paid by very shallow forms of engagement. That just leads to an incentive to push misinformation/disinformation.

The general decline in trust in "experts" in recent decades is something that's financially reward for some people and also dangerous to the greater society.

It's a rather hard problem to solve, maybe we will end up destroying each other sooner rather than later.
 
So you can get banned for saying black lives matter? How about all lives matter? How about police lives matter? How about dog lives matter? How about all dark matter? Where do we draw the line here?

Yeah, all of it IMO. Because usually the people who say that stuff nowadays are mainly using them as political virtue litmus tests. Some of those things in particular (not the last two you mention...I've never heard of those xD) have become highly politicized along partisan lines, some are even affiliated with certain organizations with sketchy histories.

That's why I'm of the opinion, ban all that kind of stuff on both sides. They're both toxic at this point IMO even if there were good intentions originally.
He means no room for your politics, not his. Can't have you making fun of the Chinese government for example.

Weird how we can't discuss politics but we can have games force feed the politics to us and be upset when Ubisoft takes a mutual stand.

Hmm...yeah that could end up being a sort of loophole.

TBH, I think some of these games should also chill out on the forced political narratives. Moderate allegories or grand-scope concepts that might fall under political bodies spanning hundreds or thousands of years (and are generic enough to be universal) are okay. I'm not going to complain about the next MGS story having political themes, for example, but that's generally because those games don't date themselves with extremely time-specific, trending political events acting like the bedrock for the stories. That's the type of game that can use political themes intelligently and sensibly, and not in ways to try dictating which way their audience should think.

But playing a game where you're a BLM, Antifa, MGTOW or "race realist" type of 🤡? Nooooo thanks. Same for any game trying to push/dictate/indoctrinate the player to fall into that type of thinking. There's already enough people on Twitter, Youtube, the internet in general etc. who do that stuff in one way or another.

True but corporate America is much more sympathetic to one side of that and Xbox often proclaims its support for activist causes.

So what Phil Spencer is saying even if the Xbox social network is for games, only the political causes endorsed by Microsoft/Xbox are allowed run unopposed on Xbox social network.

He is not stating that Xbox is neutral platform that keeps politics out of games or its platform.

TBF this isn't just something WRT Xbox; all of the big gaming platforms and companies "lean" left, particularly progressive-left (in terms of optics, anyway). The reason why, and I'm probably gonna get some flack for this but...the reason why is kind of because it's much easier to sell people on making things better for everyone by advancing forward, versus trying to sell people on the idea that the best times are way in the past (to "regress", socially).

Truth is that society would be best off with a mix of some things that have come about in more recent times and bringing back some of the standards and sanity of things from less-recent time. Unfortunately neither side wants to admit to any of that. One side plays ignorant to the fact that a lot of their being "progressive" wrongly punishes a lot of otherwise good people in a very specific demographic group (that happens to be the majority), the other side plays ignorant to the fact that some of the things they want to return back to "normal" are antagonistic to, if not downright regressive for, certain minority groups (or push their points in ways that use those groups as the problem).

The worst examples of both are usually the loudest (who also are generally only a very small portion), but they tend to have a lot of influence on discussion as all this culture war crap goes on, so you get more and more who would otherwise lean to the middle getting tempted and radicalized (stuff like Youtube algorithms don't help) closer to the extremes, that's why things become more and more hyper-partisan.

@DryvBy I would advise just not playing games that you feel are too preachy (vote with your wallet) and let the creatives have the freedom to create the stories they want to tell (even if you don't like some of them).

Sadly that does start to get more difficult as more games trend to pushing a certain school of political thought. And it's not actually that games need to do that with their stories; there could be forms of self-censorship (due to perceived backlash from certain people) that hampers types of creative expression, but the vast majority of that censorship leans in favor of a certain school of political thought.

If voting with your wallet eventually means leaving the hobby because literally everything even slightly associated with a certain side of politics becomes considered "hateful" or "toxic", then that's a problem. If being conservative with your money someone ends up getting twisted as a form of bigotry and discrimination using intersectionalism and identity politics (simply because of the act of being conservative with it), then that's a massive problem.
 
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DaGwaphics

Member
Sadly that does start to get more difficult as more games trend to pushing a certain school of political thought. And it's not actually that games need to do that with their stories; there could be forms of self-censorship (due to perceived backlash from certain people) that hampers types of creative expression, but the vast majority of that censorship leans in favor of a certain school of political thought.

If voting with your wallet eventually means leaving the hobby because literally everything even slightly associated with a certain side of politics becomes considered "hateful" or "toxic", then that's a problem. If being conservative with your money someone ends up getting twisted as a form of bigotry and discrimination using intersectionalism and identity politics (simply because of the act of being conservative with it), then that's a massive problem.

I haven't seen anything in mainstream games that I would say is even in the ballpark of calling out any particular group as "hateful" or "toxic".

Hypersensitivity is probably what endangers a constructive society more than anything else. The fringes of both sides are not confident in their own viewpoints to the point where any representation of the "other" is some kind of trigger or equates to some kind of personal attack against them. That's all self contrived on the part of those individuals, those that have confidence in their own beliefs are unbothered by seeing a representation of a conservative figure or a liberal figure in a TV show or in a game. Same goes for over arching themes in games or film. Listening/watching/playing something that is driving a theme that doesn't align with your core beliefs isn't going to indoctrinate you if you have real confidence in your world view, though it may allow you to visualize a situation from the perspective of someone across the isle, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Whether it is Roseanne Conner being a Trump supporter on TV or a liberal gay character in a movie, those characters aren't problems, the problems come from people who just can't bare the mere thought that such a character is represented IMO.

Unfortunately, the fringes seem to have the loudest microphones by a mile at the moment and that hurts discourse in general. The center has to find a way to retake the stage if we are ever going to tone down the partisanship.

At any rate, I'm glad that the gaming platforms aren't a hotbed for this type of thing in general. I don't need to agree with or even know the political beliefs of someone I play Madden with, all that is needed is a shared interest in that particular game (and hopefully a desire to play complete games -- looking at you players that unplug their router as soon as they get behind).
 
I haven't seen anything in mainstream games that I would say is even in the ballpark of calling out any particular group as "hateful" or "toxic".

No game itself that I can think of, and I might be dragging film into it. But there have been quite a few movies and shows for example which have labelled people not liking the work for rather benign reasons as being bigots. Force Awakens, Netflix She-Ra, Netflix He-Man etc. Even constructive criticism not focused on any culture war stuff would get labeled that way.

It's eased off some but I think that's partly because due to the squeeze of lockdowns and restrictions some companies don't want to jeopardize more losses on top of what ones they may already be incurring from lockdowns and whatnot.

Hypersensitivity is probably what endangers a constructive society more than anything else. The fringes of both sides are not confident in their own viewpoints to the point where any representation of the "other" is some kind of trigger or equates to some kind of personal attack against them. That's all self contrived on the part of those individuals, those that have confidence in their own beliefs are unbothered by seeing a representation of a conservative figure or a liberal figure in a TV show or in a game. Same goes for over arching themes in games or film. Listening/watching/playing something that is driving a theme that doesn't align with your core beliefs isn't going to indoctrinate you if you have real confidence in your world view, though it may allow you to visualize a situation from the perspective of someone across the isle, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Whether it is Roseanne Conner being a Trump supporter on TV or a liberal gay character in a movie, those characters aren't problems, the problems come from people who just can't bare the mere thought that such a character is represented IMO.

100%, and it's pretty pathetic it's devolved to the way it is today. I blame the people who tried pushing the idea of entertainment being something more than just entertainment, because that's encouraged a lot of creators to push what they believe ideal societal values in their work, even when it makes no sense to do so. There's also been a pushing out of Conservative types from spaces like Hollywood when there was more balance in the past, but I think that side let it happen because they allowed other people to conflate decent Conservatism with the horrid alt-right extremism that was mostly at the fringes of the party.

I think the concept of the Overton window is very real and we've just seen a shifting of it on both sides so that less and less propagandistic things are labeled as propaganda and being vile in some way. Like with some progressives, if you support women's rights but are possibly iffy (not even wholly against) UBI or making hard drugs legal, you're considered alt-right and a bigot. On the flipside, with some anti-SJWs if you have a work with a LGBT or minority character who's simply there and their identity isn't the focal point and doesn't carry some agenda, that work might still be considered SJW propaganda just because of the mere presence of an LGBT or minority person in it. That's how radicalized things have gotten now.

I feel really bad for genuinely creative people because they're the ones caught in the middle of this and are expected to bare all of society's ills when most of them just want to create some cool fun works that other people can enjoy and use as an escaped from the hyperpoliticized culture war of today. It's to the point now where if you make a story even referencing certain concepts, there's gangs of bad actors and idiots online ready to cancel you and force you to reveal things in the story too early just to satiate their paranoia, but if you do that your ability as a storyteller is basically being ruined. It's very unfortunate.

Unfortunately, the fringes seem to have the loudest microphones by a mile at the moment and that hurts discourse in general. The center has to find a way to retake the stage if we are ever going to tone down the partisanship.

At any rate, I'm glad that the gaming platforms aren't a hotbed for this type of thing in general. I don't need to agree with or even know the political beliefs of someone I play Madden with, all that is needed is a shared interest in that particular game (and hopefully a desire to play complete games -- looking at you players that unplug their router as soon as they get behind).

Agreed; unless the person you're playing against outright says some slur or is just being an obvious asshole, chances are they are just there to relax and have a good time so why would their politics matter? You're not there to push your politics and they aren't there to push theirs, so leave it at that.

This gets more complicated unfortunately if there are more and more games which either push ideas "siding" with a certain side of the culture war, or have marketing that hyperbolizes criticisms by labeling critics as bigots, so there should be some changes for the better on that front as well.
 

Excess

Member
It's a private videogame company. Their rules, like in any other platform. No shock there.
I think more specifically, it's a private platform that isn't affected by the "Network Effect", unlike Twitter and Facebook, which is a measure of the good or service based on how many use it.
 

kalecsan

Banned
Damn, there it goes my chance to publish on xbox the game I'm working on: "Chronicles of the Looter Mainland Tranny: Retard Saga Ep 1"
 
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kyussman

Member
Do people go on Xbox live to talk politics......I thought they went on there to shoot each other over and over and over again.
 

DaGwaphics

Member
I feel really bad for genuinely creative people because they're the ones caught in the middle of this and are expected to bare all of society's ills when most of them just want to create some cool fun works that other people can enjoy and use as an escaped from the hyperpoliticized culture war of today. It's to the point now where if you make a story even referencing certain concepts, there's gangs of bad actors and idiots online ready to cancel you and force you to reveal things in the story too early just to satiate their paranoia, but if you do that your ability as a storyteller is basically being ruined. It's very unfortunate.

Completely agree. And like you said you sometimes have creators being just as guilty by accusing anyone that is critical of their work of being a bigot of some sort or another.
 
No private institution is going to willingly give up the ability to moderate their community particularly when it has even the smallest chance to affect sales of any kind. Even if the community is the nicest group of people you could imagine, they'd still wouldn't call it a free speech platform.
 

Xdrive05

Member
Great, but I wish it was a two-way street. Nobody plays games to be proselytized. They're the one escape from politics now.

While you're at it, how about no more horseshit corporate progressive messaging as well.
 

Clear

Member
Its pretty depressing to watch freedom of speech die a death of a thousand cuts.

You combine this comment with his recently expressed desire for a ban on XBL to be extended out to all services and its pretty obvious that they simply aren't hiding their intentions anymore.

If you can forbid "political" speech, you can forbid ANY sort of speech you don't like. There's literally no topic that is ethically higher.
 

DaGwaphics

Member
Its pretty depressing to watch freedom of speech die a death of a thousand cuts.

You combine this comment with his recently expressed desire for a ban on XBL to be extended out to all services and its pretty obvious that they simply aren't hiding their intentions anymore.

If you can forbid "political" speech, you can forbid ANY sort of speech you don't like. There's literally no topic that is ethically higher.

MS isn't an agent of the government, therefore they lack the authority to influence freedom of speech in any meaningful way (as do social media companies at the end of the day). Not being able to setup a political/ideological soap box on Xbox Live does not limit your freedom of speech.

I'm all for freedom of speech in the sense of what that really is, which is the freedom to express your opinions in the public square without fear of prosecution. I don't think that extends to an entitlement to exercise this right in the homes of others if that isn't something that they want. Freedom of association is also a thing. As long as the internet itself (the routing network, transit agents, ICANN, etc.) are open and unable to be prejudicial to the bits of data transferred ( losing net neutrality being the only real threat), freedom of speech online is secured. Obviously, if you want to post/chat on the private platform of a third-party entity you are going to follow the rules they set for the platform. There are numerous sites online that are built for the specific purpose of political discussion, I don't think the topic is dying out online anytime soon.

Just like this community that we are typing on right now has its own set of rules. (which I might be starting to run afoul of, since this community also has a sticky on the homepage about staying away from political discussion, sorry about that, I won't post anymore in this one). Just because mods here say they don't want XYZ posted here does not equate to them trampling your freedom of speech.
 
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So no politicized Pride, BLM, etc, then, right?

We all know that the "no free speech platform" statements actually means "you're free to speak anything that is aligned with our community managers, which may or may not be comprised of gender studies majors"


People in this thread seeing something positive in Phil's statements seem to forget that Microsoft is mandating stuff like this in their public presentations.



They're not going to censor free speech. They're going to censor wrong speech. And do keep in mind that Phil wants to do it in collusion with other gaming social services.
 

Dream-Knife

Member
I am not sure if the solution to let the users decide what is truth or not via doing no moderation is a good solution especially when they (social media platforms and creators) are generally getting paid by very shallow forms of engagement. That just leads to an incentive to push misinformation/disinformation.

The general decline in trust in "experts" in recent decades is something that's financially reward for some people and also dangerous to the greater society.

It's a rather hard problem to solve, maybe we will end up destroying each other sooner rather than later.
The problem is is that is what we have lost from the old, pre-facebook internet. You were supposed to assume everything you read online was satire. Now everything is either propaganda, or flies under the radar somehow.
TBF this isn't just something WRT Xbox; all of the big gaming platforms and companies "lean" left, particularly progressive-left (in terms of optics, anyway). The reason why, and I'm probably gonna get some flack for this but...the reason why is kind of because it's much easier to sell people on making things better for everyone by advancing forward, versus trying to sell people on the idea that the best times are way in the past (to "regress", socially).
Not to be political, but it all started after 2011. It's easier for us to fight each other than the corporations. Remember when one side was anti-corporate? Turns out if you control media, you can manipulate their thinking. Gen X and Millennials used to have unparalleled freedom of speech on the internet. It was only a matter of time before they clamped down on that to remove an existential threat.
 

Clear

Member
MS isn't an agent of the government, therefore they lack the authority to influence freedom of speech in any meaningful way (as do social media companies at the end of the day). Not being able to setup a political/ideological soap box on Xbox Live does not limit your freedom of speech.

The issue is that when a privately held communications system becomes of a sufficient size, it becomes of interest and use to government. Which in turn opens up the likelihood of cronyism; quid-pro-quo arrangements where in return for not allowing certain sorts of speech that the government doesn't like, they'll turn a blind eye to certain financial and consumer focussed irregularities.

Its a recipe for corruption. So even if you wish to disregard the political implications, its got a huge impact in a consumerist sense.

I'm not suggesting that MS or any other tech giant wants to become a government, its just that for their own business interests an alliance with government is hugely advantageous.
 
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Good? I guess I don’t want to see any political bullshit when I’m playing games if I’m honest. It gets frustrating seeing it everyday and when I want to wind down and play games, other peoples political opinions are the last thing I care about.
 

DeepEnigma

Gold Member
Good? I guess I don’t want to see any political bullshit when I’m playing games if I’m honest. It gets frustrating seeing it everyday and when I want to wind down and play games, other peoples political opinions are the last thing I care about.
You'll still see the approved narratives politically. Bet.
 
The problem is is that is what we have lost from the old, pre-facebook internet. You were supposed to assume everything you read online was satire. Now everything is either propaganda, or flies under the radar somehow.

Not to be political, but it all started after 2011. It's easier for us to fight each other than the corporations. Remember when one side was anti-corporate? Turns out if you control media, you can manipulate their thinking. Gen X and Millennials used to have unparalleled freedom of speech on the internet. It was only a matter of time before they clamped down on that to remove an existential threat.
I think after Occupy Wallstreet (which actually started off with the right intentions, IMHO), you're right something big did change and now it's people with dumb ideologies being pitted against each other in more and more radicalized forms. Removal of anti-propaganda laws have also contributed to a lot of today's landscape.

Maybe we should go back to BBS servers 😁 (well, "we" in the sense of people...I've never used one but it's interesting to learn about).
 
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