Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft. What, are we playing catch-up to our former WTF King Blizzard now? If you’re not putting down your fanbase or trying to disguise your fairy leanings, then you’re banning people from your online service based on the name of their home town.
While this might not be an issue for most people (unless you have the misfortune to live near Lake Titicaca), an X-Box LIVE gamer recently ran afoul of Microsoft’s stringent “no bad words” policy. Typically these types of epithets are wielded on the internet with the expressed purpose of hurting someone’s feelings, but what if you’re just trying to tell people where you live. Fort Gay resident Josh Moore was kicked off of X-Box LIVE for adding the name of his town, a small 1,000 person hamlet in West Virginia, to his bio. Playing the devil’s advocate for Microsoft, they probably have a program that scours their user base looking for offensive language and auto-bans them without delving into specifics. Surely a phone call to X-Box LIVE’s customer service center could fix the issue? Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Mr. Moore was informed by Microsoft that the word gay was unacceptable in any context, and if he persisted in keeping the name of his town on his account, then his subscription would be canceled without a refund. Fort Gay’s mayor David Thompson got involved at this point, and through a series of interviews with local TV stations and the Associated Press, X-Box LIVE’s Director of Policy and Enforcement Stephen Toulouse stepped in and solved the issue. He reasons that, without context, the words Fort Gay, WV could be misconstrued as an insult. Mr. Toulouse promised to get in touch with Mr. Moore and remedy the situation. He said that keeping a lid on improper conduct on LIVE is a challenge, but he will work to set this particular incident right.
What do you guys think of this latest slip up? Microsoft is no stranger to backlash from heavy-handed maneuvers on LIVE, so this is just one more unfortunate incident. Obviously they were wrong in this instance, but is it better to be safe than sorry?