Microsoft improving Xbox Live's anti-harassment tools

Microsoft is "working toward improvements" to community moderation on Xbox Live, according to the New York Times.

Microsoft is "working toward improvements" to community moderation on Xbox Live, according to the New York Times.

The company is reportedly beefing up the service's automated moderation tools, including algorithms that detect repeat offenders spewing hateful tirades through their headsets and can automatically mute them.

The encouraging news comes amid a growing tide of discontent in the gaming community with the level of harassment that gamers, especially female gamers, encounter online. Game designer James Portnow tackled the issue in an April episode of his web series, Extra Credits, and called upon fellow gamers to email Microsoft's Xbox Live enforcers and ask them to do more on the harassment front. Microsoft listened, and recently invited Portnow out to the company's headquarters in Redmond, WA, for a four-hour powwow with the Xbox Live team.

We asked Microsoft to elaborate on Xbox Live improvements. A spokesman replied with the following statement:

We did reach out to James Portnow and his team to visit and discuss opportunities for further addressing harassment in the industry. We felt the meeting was very constructive and positive. We have several plans for both near- and long-term product and service enhancements that we have been working on, and we shared those with Mr. Portnow. At this time, we don't have anything to share publicly.

As we've said before, bullying and harassment are not welcome on Xbox LIVE, but more can be done to create a safer and supportive play environment. Addressing this issue is an ongoing effort for the gaming community, Microsoft and our partners, and it will take time to get it right. Know that our commitment to solving this problem is strong.

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