If you’re not averse to being a bit sweary on Skype, Xbox Live, or other Microsoft products, be careful: the Redmond firm has updated its service agreement, prohibiting the use of “offensive language” and fraudulent activity.
Anyone found violating the rules, which go into effect on May 1, may be suspended or banned from Xbox services. Offenders also risk forfeiting their account balances, any content licenses they may own, and their Xbox Gold Membership.
Microsoft also says that it may trawl through your accounts if it suspects you’ve been violating its Terms and Conditions. "When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue," it writes.
As discussed in this Reddit post, Microsoft has always had this policy in place, but the company is now clarifying it. “In the Code of Conduct section, we’ve clarified that use of offensive language and fraudulent activity is prohibited,” reads one section in the summary of changes.
“Don’t publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity).”
With this policy, Microsoft is targeting the toxic players who populate Xbox Live while harassing others—Xbox is one of the 30+ companies to have joined the recently formed Fair Play Alliance. But the Windows maker hasn’t specified what langue it considers “offensive,” and if this might affect Skype communications between friends (will it apply to video calls?), or OneDrive documents that contain swearing.
Ultimately, Microsoft’s policy is designed to prevent illegal activities, child exploitation, spam, and fraud on its services. It likely hopes that clarifying the offensive language section will encourage certain members of the Xbox gaming communities to tone down the hatred. The firm is unlikely to be monitoring every Skype call for the odd swear and will probably rely on users flagging anything they consider offensive.