Swearing in uploaded videos could get your Xbox Live account suspended

Microsoft acknowleged it checks for bad language in videos shared through Xbox One's Upload Studio.


Tim Sampson

Internet Culture

Published Nov 29, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 12:57 am CDT

Among the features not publicized during the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox One last week: A figurative “swear jar.”

Microsoft has confirmed to multiple media sources that it is in the habit of temporarily banning users who use excessive profanity in videos uploaded through Xbox Live’s Upload Studio. 

It didn’t take long after the release of Microsoft’s next generation console for users to start complaining about 24-hour bans “due to past behavior.” Rumors swirled about the reasons why users were having their accounts suspended, until earlier this week when Microsoft confirmed that the same code of conduct that applies to online interactions also applies to game videos.

“The team reviews every clip that is uploaded to the service to help maintain a clean, safe and fun environment for all users,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Mashable.

Microsoft has not defined exactly what meets the standard of excessive profanity, and many users complained about a lack of warning from Xbox Live. Users also complained about Microsoft’s failure to give notification about how long bans would last. 

“MS really does need to: a) be much clearer on their terms as to how strict they will be; b) implement a strike system or at least message people,” said Rockettpunk on an Xbox Live forum

Others complained about a double standard for game developers versus game players. They note how many of the uploaded clips getting users banned for bad language are from games that are filled with profanity already.

“I think it’s strange that MS allows you to record any game footage when there are games with really bad foul language, [but] I say something like plonker or c*ap and I get my benefits removed,” wrote rbevanx, who claims a perfectly clean track record during his years as an Xbox Live subscriber. 

Microsoft has owned up to the banning users for game video uploads, but it also quashed the rumor that private Skype calls were being subjected to the same kind of monitoring. These rumors began to spring up on message boards as Upload Studio bans appeared to apply across the Xbox Live system to apps like Skype and Netflix.

“To be clear, the Xbox Live Policy & Enforcement team does not monitor direct peer-to-peer communications like Skype chats and calls. Also, we take Code of Conduct moderation via Upload Studio very seriously. We want a clean, safe and fun environment for all users. Excessive profanity as well as other Code of Conduct violations will be enforced upon and result in suspension of some or all privileges on Xbox Live. We remain committed to preserving and promoting a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all of our Xbox Live members.”

All this has added more fuel to the console wars, providing Playstation 4 enthusiasts more ammunition. The Xbox One has already stoked the concerns of privacy advocates due to the advanced monitoring capabilities of its peripheral Kinect System. Microsoft was also forced to back off its initial plans to require a constant Internet connection and restrict the playing of used games. 

“That’s why I got a PS4 instead of an Xbox One,” Xbox forum user EarlWulph wrote. “Microsoft is a horrible company that tries to police how people play games on the $500 console they purchased. I hate when companies do stuff like this.”

Photo by X-Money/Flickr

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*First Published: Nov 29, 2013, 2:02 pm CST