Xbox Live policies and Gamertags

[EDIT: I’ve gotten a surprising amount of email today accusing me or Microsoft of being homophobic. Allow me to clear that up real quickly.

The rights of Gay, Lesbian, or Transgendered individuals is a civil rights issue. I support the right of these individuals to marry and have those marriages recognized the same as anyone else’s, equally. (not civil unions, which insults me as much as "separate but equal" does as a racial strategy, but marriage as it exists for heterosexual couples)

I support their right to adopt under the exact same criteria heterosexual couples enjoy. I support legislation that protects their rights in the workplace and in society and am very proud that the Microsoft corporation is a leader in this area. I could say a lot more, but the very notion that I am a homophobe or that Microsoft is somehow homophobic is just taking the matter too far. Hopefully these public declarations will put that matter to rest.]

I’ve gotten some questions today regarding a recent name change my team issued against the gamertag "TheGayerGamer". As I have mentioned before, the community brings content that may potentially violate the terms of use to our attention via the complaint system.

For text and profile complaints we actually review every complaint against the Code of Conduct and Terms of Use to determine whether the complaint is accurate. We DO NOT take action based off the number of complaints, or how often people complain in a given day. All complaints we get into the system against a Gamertag or content are reduced to one so that our agents merely review the content against the terms of use. Whether it’s one complaint or 20, we will look at it the same way. That’s the metric we use and that we have publicly communicated that we use.

And the Terms of Use clearly disallow content of a sexual nature:

"[a member may not] Create a Gamertag or use text in other profile fields that may offend other members. This includes comments that look, sound like, stand for, hint at, abbreviate, or insinuate any of the following: profane words/phrases, sexually explicit language, sexual innuendo, hate speech (including but not limited to racial, ethnic, or religious slurs), illegal drugs/controlled substances, or illegal activities.

Emphasis mine.

We received a complaint on the Gamertag and determined that it did indeed contain sexual innuendo. Now granted, there could be an argument that the text is not pejorative to homosexuality and should therefore be allowed. But there is no context to explain that. Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.

We view these situations objectively during our review under the terms of use. To answer the question another way, yes "TheStraighterGamer" or "TheHeterosexualgamer" would have gotten the same treatment and would have been found to be in violation and forced to be changed. We’ve actually done that to tags like that before.

Racism, hate speech, bigotry, homophobia, all these things have no place on Xbox Live and are in violation of our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct. My team works hard reviewing the complaints every single day and taking action on them where appropriate. We also work very hard to be present in our LIVE community actively playing and looking for bad behavior so we can take action when we see it (for some proof of this you can check the Xbox Forums each morning for people complaining about their suspensions and that they were only ‘kidding around’!) The good news is that I have said before complaints as a % of our total users still remains a tiny tiny fraction. But be sure if you see bad behavior to let us know via the complaint system!

I just wanted to provide some transparency into the reasoning we put into the process. Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply