Xbox President Phil Spencer recently spoke to the New York Times about the state of the industry and Microsoft’s current strategy across several hot button issues. The topic that reared its ugly head was society and specifically harassment via gaming social networks: interviewer Kara Swisher drew a link between anonymity and the Gamergate series, questioning what lessons the owners of the big platform drew from it.
“The point you make about the anonymity of the Internet and the behavior it opens up to people who want to take advantage of that — I’d call them sinister reasons, I think is great learning,” Spencer said. “[…] And what we find on our network is when people misbehave, we have a reporting functionality built into the social connections people create on our platform. If we block someone’s account, we really have the ability to influence who someone’s games are and their availability.”
If you’re thinking that doesn’t quite answer the question, Spencer goes on to explain the good and bad sides of gaming social networking (“all the pros and cons of the human condition”). But there is only one flat line in the sand.
“One of the things we said about our social network is that we’re not a platform for free speech. We’re a platform around interactive entertainment and video games. We’re not there to allow all kinds of social discourse to happen on our platform. That’s not why we’re there.
“We’re not there to allow any conversation to happen on our platform. I’m not saying it’s never going to happen. We’re not a place — it’s very hard to come to Xbox Live and say, ‘Okay, I want to go create a political party on the platform.'” You can kind of twist the tools and try to reach It’s there, but it’s not set up for general purpose conversations or the community. It’s really set up for the community around interactive entertainment and the games that run on our platform. And that’s how we invest. And I don’t judge what other networks are doing. It’s just not what it’s about our network.”
Spencer talks about a wide range of topics in the interview, including an ongoing Activision-Blizzard account with various allegations of abuse, harassment, and sexism (“Xbox history isn’t clean”). You can read or listen to the full interview here.