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Xbox boss Phil Spencer has stressed that Xbox is "not a free speech platform", and that its primary goal is to deliver games and entertainment to players.
You'd think that's the kind of thing that wouldn't need clarifying, but in 2022 there's clearly a relationship of sorts between video games and the growing divide in American politics.
Late last year, a report from the Home Office uncovered a troubling trend amongst right-wing extremist groups who have been using online gaming spaces to spread conspiracy theories and recruit young gamers.
In a new interview with the New York Times' Kara Swisher, Spencer touched on the idea of such radicalization making its way onto Xbox Live. When asked about link between games and politics, the exec noted that the platform is used for all sorts of things and engaged with in a number of ways, but noted that Xbox's online services were not designed to let people do or say whatever they want.
"We see all positives and negatives of the human condition. We have people who propose to each other and get married on Xbox Live," Spencer said of the platform. "We also have conversations about politics and other things that happen. One of the things we’ve stated about our social network is we’re not a free speech platform. We’re a platform around interactive entertainment and video games. And we’re not there to allow all kinds of social discourse to happen on our platform. That’s not why we exist.
"We're not there to allow any conversation to happen on our platform. It's very difficult to come to Xbox Live and say, Okay, I want to go create a political party on the platform.'
"You could kind of twist the tools and try to get there, but it’s just not set up for general-purpose conversations or community. It’s really set up for community around interactive entertainment and the games that run on our platform. And that’s the way we invest."
Swisher went on to bring up the way in which poor moderation on the part of social media companies like Facebook and Twitter can cause hate speech to thrive. When asked if he thought game companies were more successful at moderating and managing their communities, Spencer admitted there's still "a long way to go".
"I think we all have a long way to go," Spencer said. You could tell me that’s a lame answer. That’s all right."
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