Be careful what you say online: Microsoft is listening.
The tech giant recently implemented some changes to its popular “Minecraft” game. The game currently holds the record for being the best-selling video game of all time, with hundreds of thousands of players playing it at any given time.
In June, Microsoft announced that some new reporting features would be coming to the game. Players could rat each other out, and if a player is found to be violating the Nebulous Community Standards for things like hate speech or threats of violence, they would be banned from playing online.
“Banned players cannot play on servers, join Realms, host or join multiplayer games, or use the market. They are also not allowed to access Minecraft Earth. Xbox players will no longer have access to their worlds,” Microsoft said in a statement. a supporting article about what the ban entails. In non-player English, a ban completely prevents the player from accessing online services.
The reaction was almost instantaneous, but the policy went into effect on July 27.
It is important to note how Minecraft works. There are two types of online games: public and private. On a public server, players can join strangers from all over the world in the game, while a private server requires some sort of code or invitation to gain access and is typically used by smaller groups of friends to play with each other. they.
The new policy allows Microsoft to ban a player for something the company doesn’t like that was said on a private server, where Microsoft shouldn’t have any influence. Imagine that Bill Gates breaks into your house while you and your friends are playing “Halo” and he forbids you to play online because you said that Lia Thomas is a man.
It’s something like this.
of course microsoft insist that there is no way this system can be abused and that humans will check to see if a ban is warranted. But judging how Microsoft’s Big Tech brothers regularly censure conservatives, forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical.
Microsoft’s foray into content censorship on private servers has staggering implications, as it’s not just a gaming company. It also creates some of the most widely used programs in the world.
It’s not hard to imagine a universe where Microsoft starts censoring Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. The company has already revealed its lean to the left with a series of strange changes to the proofreader function of Microsoft’s suite of programs.
In 2020, Microsoft additional a group of “inclusive” editing suggestions for applications like Microsoft Word, including recommending that users capitalize the word black (but not white, of course) or replace the word “humanity” with “humanity” to avoid being sexist.
Minecraft itself is no stranger to kicking out those who disagree with leftist dogma. Markus Alexej Persson, known as “Notch”, created Minecraft in 2009.
Following comments Notch made on his Twitter in which he criticized feminism and the idea of white privilegeMicrosoft scrub all references to the man who made the game from his own creation in 2019. Later that year, Microsoft further distanced itself from Notch by neglect to invite him to the game’s 10th anniversary celebration.
“His comments and opinions do not reflect those of Microsoft…and are not representative of ‘Minecraft,'” a Microsoft representative said, according to Variety.
Given the direction Microsoft is taking, is Minecraft the canary in the coal mine for a more far-reaching reign of censorship?
After all, there’s not much difference between a private Minecraft server that requires an invite to access, and a private Word document. If I write something like “A man can never be a woman”, will I be banned from using Word?
Microsoft seems to be leaning yes.
It is dangerous when activist corporations decide what is and is not allowed to be said online. Conservatives have already shown repeatedly that they are being unfairly targeted and that censorship is a weapon that the left wields with impunity against its opposition.
But maybe there is a silver lining to this whole censorship catastrophe. Many Minecraft players, even those on the left, seem upset with the changes.
The Minecraft forum on the Reddit social networking site, normally a hotbed of leftists, was outraged by Microsoft’s decision. Post after post denounced it, with many users demanding that Microsoft back down.
That’s a start at least. Conservatives should also vigorously condemn and combat the policy and Microsoft should cease its foray into censorship and leave Minecraft alone.
Freedom of expression is not a game.
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