Microsoft’s new service agreement can punish you for using ‘offensive language.’
Watch what you say while using Microsoft products. The company’s new service agreement says it can punish you for using “offensive language.”
“In the Code of Conduct section, we’ve clarified that use of offensive language and fraudulent activity is prohibited,” Microsoft says in document summarizing the upcoming change, which goes into effect May 1.
Punishments can include account suspensions and Microsoft booting you off its products. The software giant also warns: “When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue.”
In other words, the company can search through your accounts for any evidence of the violations.
So far, Microsoft hasn’t publicly commented over concerns the policy may be too heavy-handed. A ban on offensive language will probably have the biggest impact on Xbox Live, where gamers are known to troll each other. But the policy is actually nothing new, according to Reddit users; Microsoft has decided to merely make it explicit.
“I recently messaged my friend saying that his mom had a big gay (it’s a meme going around) and he reported me as a joke. Got banned for 2 weeks for homophobic comments,” wrote one user.
However, other Microsoft users wonder what the upcoming change means for Skype and OneDrive.
“So wait a sec: I can’t use Skype to have an adult video call with my girlfriend? I can’t use OneDrive to back up a document that says ‘fuck’ in it?” wrote Jonathan Corbett, a civil rights activist in a blog post. “What’s clear here is that Microsoft is reserving the right to cancel your account whenever they feel like it.”
Microsoft doesn’t define what “offensive language” is, according to the new policy.
However, the company’s code of conduct is designed to prohibit a whole range of problematic activities including spam, transmitting malware, child exploitation, and anything illegal. The company’s most severe punishments are probably reserved for the worst offenders.