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Microsoft Reveals its Internal Xbox Live Police

Tuesday Microsoft exposed its dedicated Policy and Enforcement team for Xbox Live who typically reside behind a black curtain and a sign that reads: "Please do not disturb. Sensitive material behind curtain." As seen on the right, there are the individuals who patrol the network daily for hackers, cheaters, phishers, account thieves, game code modifiers and foul-mouthed gamers.

“If you’re playing a game on Xbox LIVE, and somebody snipes you from across the map and you drop the F-bomb, we’re not going to ban you – not for the occasional slip," says Boris Erickson, Xbox LIVE Enforcement Unicorn Ninja. "We focus on the really bad stuff."

Erickson looks intimidating as it is, sporting a short Mohawk and tattoos covering every inch of his arms. He didn't explain why his job title was described as Unicorn Ninja, but he reassured gamers that the team has no plans to trample free speech.

"We are not here to be the arbiters of all speech," he adds. "But there are certainly some kinds of communication on Xbox LIVE that crosses a line – racism, homophobia, sexism, offensive comments about nationalities, and more."

According to Microsoft, the team receives stacks of complaints day in and day out covering reports of offensive behavior, speech, and materials. Some cases simply require the user to remove a word from their profile. Extreme cases means that the team has to ban users from the network altogether. "Or, as we like to say, inviting them to not be our customer," Erickson says. "These are paid subscriptions we’re taking away, so we want to make sure we’re doing exactly the right thing."

So how does the team keep track of all the complaints and evil-doers trolling the network? By using a Microsoft-developed program called Vulcan. “It was designed on cocktail napkins, then coded and designed to allow people who do complaint investigations to do so in an efficient and accurate way,” Erickson says. The team is actually using a new-and-improved version of the original Vulcan program that reportedly makes sorting through complaints even faster than before.

But outside sifting through complaints, the team is also out in the field monitoring gamers in real time, acting like covert secret agents reporting back to headquarters. "The enforcement agents also play games," Erickson says. "Part of what we pay them for is to be out there in the community, listening for threats, looking for vulnerabilities, and reporting back to us."

To read Microsoft’s full disclosure, head here.

  • memadmax
    Hehe, I thought that, since it IS microsoft, that these guys would look like the "agents" from "The Matrix"...
    Reply
  • RazorBurn
    The guy on middle really looks like me.. Just a bit more hair..
    Reply
  • alhanelem
    LOL, look out all you COD playing twelve year olds...
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    So if these are the watchmen, who watches the watchmen?
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    ReggieRayhomophobia is code for Sodomites are under our protection and to disagree with that sick lifestyle makes you a homophobe.Actually homophobia covers all gay people, including lesbians, where sodomy isn't generally practiced as the primary sex act, but thanks for sharing your ignorance.
    Reply
  • chickenhoagie
    Banning for foul language shouldn't happen at all. You should have the right to say whatever you want whenever you want as much as you want without getting banned. You're telling me Microsoft wants to make xbox live more strict than the USA's rights? Its even legal to tell a cop to fck off. and People complain that the US isn't exactly a free country, so whats that say about xbox live..

    I love live, but being punished for foul language is stupid in my opinion.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    greghomeYour comment is giving me a lot of juicy thoughtsmmm, lesbians...
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    mobrocketAt the end of the day, who cares what someone says on their live account.... if u let the words hurt your feelings you are weak and are giving them power...Back in school the bullies use to call nasty names, so I told them:-
    "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me"
    From that day on the name calling stopped
    ...
    It was sticks and stones all the way
    Reply
  • blackened144
    chickenhoagieBanning for foul language shouldn't happen at all. You should have the right to say whatever you want whenever you want as much as you want without getting banned. You're telling me Microsoft wants to make xbox live more strict than the USA's rights? Its even legal to tell a cop to fck off. and People complain that the US isn't exactly a free country, so whats that say about xbox live..I love live, but being punished for foul language is stupid in my opinion.The situation changes when you spend all day cussing out 11 and 12 year old kids and describing all the things you want to do to their mothers... In the end, it comes down to common decency.. Microsoft as a private company can squash your 1st amendment rights with impunity as they are not a government agency.. And when it comes to banning one person who is abusing their other customers or having dozens of other customers stop using the service to avoid dbags cursing all day, its pretty obvious which course the company will take..
    Reply
  • RobinPanties
    blackened144The situation changes when you spend all day cussing out 11 and 12 year old kids and describing all the things you want to do to their mothers... In the end, it comes down to common decency.. Microsoft as a private company can squash your 1st amendment rights with impunity as they are not a government agency.. And when it comes to banning one person who is abusing their other customers or having dozens of other customers stop using the service to avoid dbags cursing all day, its pretty obvious which course the company will take..It's true. They can legally do anything that's in the customer agreement to use the service that you agreed to when you signed up, within the limits of the law.

    chickenhoagieBanning for foul language shouldn't happen at all. You should have the right to say whatever you want whenever you want as much as you want without getting banned. You're telling me Microsoft wants to make xbox live more strict than the USA's rights? Its even legal to tell a cop to fck off. and People complain that the US isn't exactly a free country, so whats that say about xbox live..I love live, but being punished for foul language is stupid in my opinion.
    What most people (including too often Americans) fail to realize is that, our freedoms are subject to restrictions imposed by the laws and one aspect of that is that they may not infringe on another citizen. There are such things called slander and racism.

    I think about all the times I've played COD on Live and heard a bunch of redneck morons dropping N-bombs nonstop...makes me wonder how many African Americans have quit playing online because they don't want to hear a bunch of ignorant racists dropping the N-word 3,000 times a day...from a business standpoint (Microsoft's) that's turning off customers who want to log on and enjoy playing some games (as blackened144 mentioned). Similarly as he mentioned about trash talking kids. While I'm not personally too offended by "bad words" (who decided which words were bad anyway?) I'm sure all it takes is some Mom to walk in on her 10 year old playing on X-Box Live and hear 300+ F-Bombs and N-bombs in less than a minute before she cancels her credit card payment to Microsoft and convenes with her fellow parental units to let them know what their kids are doing!
    Reply