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Extremely toxic League of Legends players threatened with instant and permanent bans

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Riot Games is taking more severe measures in an effort to reduce "extreme" player toxicity in League of Legends, handing out instant 14-day or permanent bans to players who exhibit the worst behavior in its game.

Starting today, Riot began testing a new approach that attempts to curb racist and homophobic language, death threats and unsportsmanlike conduct. Intentional feeding, the act of dying on purpose to give the opposing team an advantage, is specifically mentioned.

Dr. Jeffrey Lin, aka "Professor Doctor Lyte," made the announcement on Twitter and explained Riot's plan in more detail in a comment on Reddit.

"Today is start of tests where we'll be using a new machine learning approach [plus] Player Support manual reviews to target extreme cases of toxicity," Lin wrote. "Players that get permanent bans will see a ban code of 2500 during these tests."

Lin says Riot Games will be testing one server at a time "in small doses to monitor the effectiveness of the system carefully and minimize false positives." The test will roll out to all regions in the future.

Riot's also updating its policy on "publicly naming and shaming players" who exhibit ban-worthy toxic behavior.

"[W]e've learned in recent months that being transparent is extremely critical to the playerbase's trust in our systems, so we've decided to do a compromise," Lin said. "If players complain about unfair bans for this particular system ... we're going to be fully transparent and posting the chat logs that resulted in the ban.

"Some players have also asked why we've taken such an aggressive stance when we've been focused on reform; well, the key here is that for most players, reform approaches are quite effective. But, for a number of players, reform attempts have been very unsuccessful which forces us to remove some of these players from League entirely."

Lin is the lead designer of social systems at Riot Games and part of the team tasked with reducing toxic behavior in League of Legends.

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