Image: Sony

Social media blew up earlier this week after Sony released its version 8.00 update for PlayStation users, which resulted in various problems ranging from removed features to broken friends lists. One of the most concerning changes, however, was a warning message that pertained to voice chat functions.

“Please be aware that voice chats in parties may be recorded and sent to us by other users,” the advisory reads. “By participating in voice chats, you agree to your voice being recorded.”

“When behaviors that violate the Community Code of Conduct are reported, PlayStation Safety will review the reports to check if there have been genuine violations,” it continues. “These recordings will be used only for safety and moderation purposes by PlayStation Safety.”

Understandably, the verbiage freaked a lot of PlayStation owners out, as nobody likes the idea of being recorded. What made the message worse was that it was also misinterpreted by many gamers, who thought that Sony had been recording voice chats for God knows how long.

To fan the flames, Sony’s Catherine Jensen (VP Global Consumer Experience, SIE) has published an article on the official PlayStation blog to clear things up – but while some of the details are interesting (e.g., the exact length of audio clips that can be submitted), it doesn’t provide any relief to users who believe in freedom of speech.

“Once the PS5 console launches, if a PS5 player needs to file a harassment report, they will be able to include up to a 40 second-long Voice Chat clip in their report — 20 seconds of the main conversation with the other player, plus an additional 10 seconds before and after the conversation selection,” Jensen explained. “Only the most recent five minutes of a Voice Chat will be available for a player to use for this reporting function.”

“These reports can be submitted directly through the PS5 console, and will be sent to our Consumer Experience team for moderation, who will then listen to the recording and take action, if needed,” she continued. “Some submitted reports won’t be valid, and our team will take this as an opportunity to provide guidance and education. There won’t be an option to opt-out of this Voice Chat recording function because we want all users to feel safe when playing with others online, not just those who choose to enable it.”

What this boils down to is that PlayStation gamers should be conscious of what they say. Otherwise, your words could be used against you for a potential ban.

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  1. The worst part is I really didn’t want to give M$ my money, but after this I think the old adage of warhammer 40k is correct: “there are no good guys”
  2. Personally after hearing teenage ****heads online back on the 360 I’m surprised it took companies this long to enable a way to report abusive behavior. Don’t ban them though. Just make sure the ****heads that can’t keep from threatening to do X to Y horrific things are all put into the same gaming category so they can all get along. Nothing would please me more.
  3. I don’t agree with some autonomous system that just records everything for review. We already have that and she’s named Alexa.

    I do think having a system where a user can say “I was just harassed, submit the last couple of minutes of my audio” is a good start. I worry a bit about vengeance reporting, but I think that is a lesser evil compared to ignoring harassment all together.

    I guess what I’m saying is that on paper it sounds like a good idea what Sony is doing (you aren’t locked into their Voice chat for any reason so it’s utterly optional) – but it depends on execution as to if it protects privacy, is effective or is too easily abused.

  4. Everyone of course remembers that Xbox has a similar system from the days of the Xbox one right? Let me see if foo is sharp. Humm I see no mention of audio clip retention.
  5. Everyone of course remembers that Xbox has a similar system from the days of the Xbox one right? Let me see if foo is sharp. Humm I see no mention of audio clip retention.

    Well, that was a bit different. The way I understood it, The XBox was going to listen all the time, even while the console was in standby. Pretty much Microsoft’s version of Alexa.

    Sony is (supposedly) recording only in use when your consciously using voice chat, and then only if someone reports you.

  6. Considering "gg" is now harassment in this day and age I have no faith that this will not be abused.
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