Microsoft talks censorshi*

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Recently Stephen Toulouse, the program manager in charge of enforcing the rules and regulations of Xbox Live, recently talked to Kotaku about how Microsoft decides what gets censored in XBL names and what doesn’t. It probably doesn’t surprise you to know that there are “many thousands” of banned words, according to Toulouse. He goes on to give two examples of banned words, that are very opposite in spectrum. The first one, being “Cleveland Steamer”, is going to be unacceptable no matter what, since if we all know what someone means when they talk about a cleveland steamer. The other word is “Frak”, which is obviously a very soft way of saying “fuck”. For frak, the moderators have to be a little more careful. “”If they write frak you motherfracking fracker, that falls into a banned use. If it’s just the word by itself, I look at the other content to see if it’s OK,” says Toulouse.

Speaking as someone who has had their Gamertag banned from XBL, I have to admit that I think that too often Microsoft errs on the side of censorship. All Microsoft would have to do is make an appeals process for banned names, and a lot of people would be happy. No one asked me what context my Gamertag was in, and if they had I would have been able to easily explain that Coonskin was not chosen with racist intentions. But nope, once they decided that it was inappropriate, that was it, Game Over.

I think the most ironic thing about the whole ordeal is that it just displays the hypocrisy of selective censorship. According to Toulouse, my Gamertag can’t be Motherfracker385, supposedly to protect the innocent children from bad language, but when I am playing Halo 3, these same innocent children are teabagging me while screaming at me to go fuck my mother and calling me a bitch ass fag. Something doesn’t seem right there to me. But what would I know? I can’t even pick an appropriate Gamertag.

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