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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Today in things that make us scream incoherently

Looking For Help With Rape Threats On Xbox Live? Prepare To Be Frustrated.


We don’t have time to cover every story that lands in our paths here at The Mary Sue but if we feel it’s warranted, we will try and give something a signal boost. Doing so today lead us on a tour of Xbox Live Support we wished we hadn’t taken and prompted us to write this article on the experience. 

This morning, we found out Microsoft had changed their minds on the whole mandatory Kinect connection on Xbox One and we thought, “Hooray! They’re listening to customers!” only to be disappointed a few hours later by another company response.

We were anonymously sent a link to a post on the blog Not in the Kitchen Anymore. The site, run by Jenny Haniver, features recordings and other documentations of interactions from online gaming sessions on Xbox Live, specifically negative interactions experienced by women. This particular post detailed Haniver recieving a threat and her subsequent reporting of said threat. Here’s an excerpt [trigger warning]:

I was playing Black Ops 2 on my Xbox 360. Another player in the lobby took issue with me being there, and basically started attacking me over my gender. He kept asking if I was on my period, implying that I was fat or a lesbian, and making jokes like “Hey, ya’ll know why uh, women shouldn’t have drivers licenses? Cuz there’s no highway between the bedroom and the kitchen.” It’s all documented in this entry.

After the match concluded, he sent me a text message that said “slizzy” (which is, apparently, slang for “slut”). I replied, “Keep digging yourself into a hole dude.” He then proceeded to send me a voice message that said, “I’m gonna impregnate you with triplets and make you have a very late term abortion. Strict mental abuse. Hahaha.”

Be sure to read the whole post for more details. This happened on July 26th and a week later, Haniver discovered the user was still active on Call of Duty’s ELITE website and was still active in-game as of August 10th. Seeing as how she’d yet to hear back from anyone at Microsoft as to the status of her particular complaint, I decided to give the story a signal boost from my personal Twitter account. I wasn’t expecting a response from Xbox Support, nor was I asking for one, I was simply trying to put the situation in the forefront in case it had gotten swept under the carpet.

Hmm, ok.

This was getting frustrating, not just for myself, but for a few of my followers who were also curious as to why the offending user wasn’t gone yet. It was with this next response I felt the need to detail my own encounter with Xbox Live Support because nothing even happened to me to require a response and I still felt I was getting the runaround.

Again, not helpful and certainly not the kind of responses I expect to get from an official company Twitter account. The responses got more repetitive and even started to sound like the support team was trolling those concerned.

Not the kind of thing you want to hear when dealing with an issue as serious as rape threats. I asked “PS” if they would be willing to give me their full name in an effort to make who was speaking for the company more clear and got this response: “My name is Phil, as it’s posted on our Twitter homepage background. You can identify me by ^PS ^PS”

So…yeah. Xbox Live Support previously told Haniver they couldn’t speculate on how long it could take for a complaint to be dealt with and that only “sometimes” would they even inform the person who complained of the outcome. This begs the question – just how many reports are being filed for in-game harassment that it would take over two weeks for action to be taken? We asked Haniver for her thoughts on the developments today, here’s what she told us:

I am really disappointed in their seeming inability to give me any amount of information on the progress of this issue. They keep reiterating that they cannot comment on a specific case, which I understand… What I DON’T understand is why it would take two weeks or more to address what amounts to a rape threat sent to a player in a private voice message. All I keep hearing is that if I filed a complaint, it will be dealt with- but on what kind of a timeline? Xbox LIVE needs to crack down on harassment like this, and let players who submit complaints know that their voices are being heard and taken seriously.

I’ve filed complaints before using their in-system method. I have no idea if filing complaints is making a difference, because Xbox LIVE does not let you know if your complaint is being acted on (unless, apparently, they feel like it “sometimes”) I understand that they have a large volume of complaints to deal with, but they need to implement better methods to safeguard their players and let them know that their concerns are valid, and heard.

And now they’re actually telling me that I will receive notification if my complaint is acted on, despite the fact that they previously said that only happens “sometimes”. I want to talk to someone from Xbox LIVE or Microsoft who isn’t just talking in circles, and can give me some real information.

I think the most important take away from Haniver’s comments is, “let players who submit complaints know that their voices are being heard and taken seriously.” We know online harassment is a frequent occurrence, specifically involving women, and when someone feels unsafe, reassurance that something is in fact being done, is the least Microsoft could do.

But they are trying new things to make the Xbox live community better. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced beta for “Xbox Enforcement United,” a team meant to specifically seek out violations of their Xbox Life Code of Conduct. They write, “Eligible volunteers are given the ability to judge whether certain types of content violate our Code of Conduct. If there is sufficient agreement within the community that the content breaks the rules, we’ll take enforcement action on behalf of the community!” Also from their blog, “The program will also allow our team of enforcers to devote more time not only to complaints that require more experience and knowledge, but also time to invest in future enhancements that will continue to improve Xbox Live.” Which, you know, sounds like a great idea considering what we saw today.

After an incident at E3 this past year, Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer said, “At Microsoft, being open and respectful with others is central to our code of conduct and our values. Bullying and harassment of any kind is not condoned and is taken very seriously. We remain committed to make gaming fun for everyone, and in that effort, we must lead by example.”

Another support representative, identified as Ben or BB on their twitter page, wrote this later on in the conversation, “We’re absolutely here to help as much as we can with any Xbox support issues.” “Maybe not so much public affairs, though,” replied Twitter user Jim Dandeneau. “Correct, we are definitely here for support questions but we do not have enforcement info nor are we a PR outlet,” replied Ben.

Maybe if Microsoft’s Xbox team placed less importance on replying to every single Twitter mention of them (however obtuse), they’d have more time to actually deal with customer complaints regarding serious issues like rape threats toward their users.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m not trying to defend Microsoft or Xbox as a whole. I have seen threats, taunts and bullying from Xbox Live pretty much since its inception. Microsoft has profited by this and their response is very much belated.

    THAT SAID, I think the point of all the Xbox Support tweets is that Xbox Support is not the department that deals with this. They handle technical issues. You mention in your article that Microsoft has an actual department for this (Xbox Enforcement United) so I assume that you are supposed to send your angry tweets that direction.

  • Anonymous

    If they’re not the dept. to deal with this, though, it makes even LESS sense to become involved in the situation.

  • Anonymous

    Well she had tweeted specifically at them. Right? Her first tweet was for (or included) @XboxSupport

  • Anonymous

    Then the logical reply would have been to send her to the correct account. That’s part of what customer service does in general, right?

  • Anonymous

    Well, they did mention in the first tweet that the topic was an area for the Enforcement team and not them.

  • Ryan Colson

    http://www.xboxlivescore.com/profile/PHATDOG
    It interests me that someone in the roughly 55th percentile would rag on anyone’s gaming skills to start with :-/

  • Anonymous

    I should mention out that (a) I notice how often I start something off with ‘well’ and it’s horrible and I’m sorry and (b) I work for a massive multinational company doing technical support and I get hit all the time with people who have gotten the wrong department (mine) and are screaming why I can’t fix things that are a million miles away from what I do so please mind that I might be over-empathizing with Xbox Support and I’m sorry for that too

  • Anonymous

    Well, their comment actually is that they don’t share specifics on the actions of the Enforcement team.

    So to a layman, it does sound like Enforcement is one of the Xbox Support divisions, but Xbox Support just doesn’t talk about it.

    Oh, I wrote “well” too! :)

  • Jen Rock

    I think the more annoying factor is that whoever is helming the support account on Twitter (PS), was not demonstrating good customer service, and was being intentionally vague and obtuse, possibly just because it amused themselves. This is neither a good representation of their company, nor particularly good business practice, and comes off as someone who just doesn’t care because they have already deigned the person they’re responding to be not worth the effort or time. A simple “we don’t have control over this, check out ____” would have been a much better approach.

  • Anonymous

    I follow Jill on Twitter; if I recall correctly, she retweeted the original blogger/gamer, and then went on to discuss Xbox overall (not Xbox Support), and then began receiving replies. Then *I* started getting replied to when I commented that the whole circular conversation they were contributing toward was becoming a PR Fail. It was an attempt to steer a rudderless ship.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    No, they simply said they couldn’t comment on Enforcement team actions. They didn’t direct me anywhere better and kept assuming I wanted an answer from them when I never asked a question.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a CSR too, but they didn’t really get into any attempt to actually forward the attention to the correct department; they stonewalled by saying they couldn’t comment. I know there’s a character limit, but by simply saying “send an email *here*” they could’ve saved a couple headaches.

  • Yaboiksar

    Enforcement does not have a twitter account. They have a forum. And when you post there about anything other than “why have I been banned” you’re not answered. The only other option you have is to call and they’ll tell you the same as support. They don’t have the info on the report she made through the system and they don’t know when it’ll be resolved. So, in the meantime, this guy can continue to harass all he wants and besides checking to see if he’s listed on the boards, she’ll never know what they did because they do not have to tell her anything.

    They said they might, then said they would but that is actually against policy.

    The issue here isn’t that the twitter account can’t help her, it’s the fact that death/rape threats are handled in the same manner as “your mom is fat.” That’s a bit of a problem and MS knows this as seen from the response from Phil Spencer.

    Get off your ass, MS and do something to fix this.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t assume that the people were being “intentionally vague and obtuse”. My guess is that got hit with something unexpected and didn’t know how to deal with it but you are completely right that what they should have said was “we don’t have control over this, check out ____”

  • Anonymous

    It’s infectious, isn’t it? :)

  • Anonymous

    Ahhhh, OK. That explains a lot.

  • http://www.compulsivecollector.com/ Compulsive Collector

    In that case, they should probably refrain from responding to messages that aren’t related to technical issues, and they certainly shouldn’t be childish smartasses about it.

  • Anonymous

    I posted this on my Facebook, and the first reply was that if you can’t stand “shit talking” on XBL, don’t be on XBL. It’s so obvious to say this, but Microsoft is riding an all-too-popular opinion.

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca

    You know, I think I’m losing sympathy for this whole “we don’t comment on enforcement” thing. Surely it makes their lives easier– they don’t have to defend their decisions, but we surely wouldn’t put up with it outside of corporation controlled environments. Refraining from commenting during investigation is well and good– but once a judgement has been made…

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    “…we’re not allowed to speculate on wether or not we can speculate.”

    That sounds an awful lot like a bot, not a person. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a bot, to be honest. It’d be cheaper for them to program a bot to be useless than to actually hire a person to be useless.

    Sadly, it’s probably a person who’s resorted to behaving like a bot because they are some kind of dead end, or complaint black hole.

    Ugh.

  • Ross Van Loan

    What a charming stunted little misogynistic Morlock! Enlightened Society should detail a team of Anthropologists to study it, or zoologists to tag & track it.

  • Yaboiksar

    Not to mention me telling my husband that I’m gonna kick his ass isn’t the same as sending a stranger a fucking voice message about how I’m going to rape and impregnate her and then give her an abortion.

    I’ve been gaming a LONG time and that kind of shit talking is new to me.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi
  • Anonymous

    “Enforcement does not have a twitter account. They have a forum.”

    Really? That’s crazy!

    “I’ve been gaming a LONG time and that kind of shit talking is new to me.”

    I’m surprised because Xbox live is famous for it’s bullying. Heck, if you search youtube for videos for Xbox Live and add “homophobia” or “bullying” or even “rape”, you are going to get a ton of examples. Microsoft knows this. They have always known this.

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    (reads tweets at link)

    The randomness of the replies really doesn’t dispel the possibility, does it?

    Ugh, I say again.

  • Anonymous

    Bots aren’t quite smart enough yet to respond to a tweet like that with “we’re not allowed to speculate on whether or not we can speculate”. But I see that the signature initials keep changing in these discussions. There’s obviously a number of people on the team, and they’re trying to juggle 10,000 balls at once (note the 1.4M tweets from the account, that’s insane), and dropping some of those balls is inevitable. It sounds like it must be a very confusing job, especially judging from the statement “It is a newer thing that is happening”. It sounds like they don’t quite know how their own system works.

  • Joanna

    Either a bot or English isn’t their first language.

  • Anonymous

    This looks like a job for “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!!” It’s the same shit with Twitter.

  • Anonymous

    The Xbox Support twitter accounts have a team of about 30 people who handle responses to anything sent to them. If you send a message you can also expect a “report card” survey within a few weeks which asks who you spoke with, how helpful, and if it was resolved and asks for comments.

    However, it has always been that there is no comment about anything the enforcement team does. There are rare instances where a generic story will get told but never anything about UserX. 1 complaint puts the user into their system for review of the complaint. (Multiple complaints does not raise the “priority”) They get hundreds if not thousands of complaints a day some requiring more time to act on than others.

    This information is available if you take the time to look for it (however it may be outdated now since the Enforcement team hasn’t had anyone in the public eye for the last few years.)

    I agree that some things should be prioritized however they should not publicly state that anything is prioritized and they should continue their policy of no feedback.

  • Saraquill

    So much for serving the people who give them money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    Wow….IGN started their enforced policy on trolls and harassment around the same time X-Box did theirs and its so sad to see only one of them has been holding up to it

  • Pink Apocalypse

    I never use Xbox Live anymore, after the experiences I had playing L4D nd L4D2. It was everything you’d find in Fat, Ugly or Slutty, and worse.

    While playing Defiance (silently) recently, I was approached by another female player who invited me into a clan, MMOs are completely new to me, so I did, remaining silent, bracing for the worst, and ready to bail. It turned out to have a few other female players, actively seeking same.

    A completely safe environment where you’re supported, instead of attacked. It was like breathing after suffocating. And not a troll in the bunch among the male players.

  • mudylysudyl

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

    It sounds like it must be a very confusing job, especially judging
    from the statement “It is a newer thing that is happening”. It sounds
    like they don’t quite know how their own system works.

  • Melynda

    I find things like this very disheartening. More often than not twitter accts like that are run by immature asshats trying to be clever and funny rather than actually helpful. You would think that Xbox Live would want ALL of their players to feel safe and comfortable when in their environment, especially in the face of receiving private, extremely personal threats of rape and violence. There’s no reason the offending player shouldn’t have been banned on the spot. Honestly, things like this are why I’m not even comfortable playing online most of the time and if I do participate in an online match, everyone is immediately muted. I don’t need other people’s negative, immature, and violent attitudes ruining my gaming. Why would a guy even think leaving a message like that would be okay? Why are so many people okay with that kind of behavior being an accept norm in gaming culture? It is truly f**ked up.

  • Ross Van Loan

    Keep gaming and eventually the Neanderthal idiots of my gender will just have to either accept or, at the very least, learn to tolerate the fact that females are in the clubhouse. Those that don’t will eventually find that their hate-mongering ways will make them gaming exiles…eventually.

  • Emily Hill

    I called their number and surprise surprise despite it being in between the hours they can talk they weren’t there supposedly after reading this I say boycott Xbox until they know better

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    I thought about that too.

  • DarthRachel

    tweeting about this article got the xbox support overflow account tweeting at me asking if i need help. i asked them why there wasn’t a clear, actionable process for reporting harassment and receiving timely response.

    they were so quick to OFFER help. now they seem to be ignoring me. huh.

    https://twitter.com/DarthRachel/status/367665388437254144

  • DarthRachel

    got a reply! they directed me to forum instructions on how to file a complaint. unhelpful!

  • Anonymous

    I got a lot of that same crap on World of Warcraft. “Here’s what YOU need to do, so we can pass off the responsibility to the victim. Whew!”

  • Anonymous

    I am equally baffled, but aware that it happens. The same stigma of the ‘Fake Geek Girl’ seems to have produced a violent reaction among some of the lesser-evolved gamers.

    tl;dr, it happens, but mostly among morons.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, player…

  • Anonymous

    Psh, no problem; Xbox is expensive as all hell anyways. I’m going with Steam.

  • Anonymous

    “A little childish.”

    Funny, I could say the same thing about your incredibly privileged response.

  • Anonymous

    Abuse happens with silence and apathy. So, yes, I’m always in favor of making it public, including the harasser’s info.

  • Ryan Colson

    See? Average player across the board :-/ What a jerk.

  • Anonymous

    These guys get thousands or maybe millions of complaints filed each day. Asking that they give your complaint special attention is insane. They give you all the tools to block people who aren’t on your friend list as well as ignoring players who seem extremely aggressive towards you. You get this kind of control over your experience because they acknowledge that they are not omnipotent and can’t be everywhere at once. Even when I was being threatened with violence or called many venomous names online in games I looked for options to get these people out of my experience while also filling a complaint to be considered at a future time because that is the only realistic option.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Considering the amount of energy they need to spend to respond to offenders, let alone complaints, I’m surprised they provide any regulation at all. It’d be much simpler for them if they didn’t.

  • Fiona

    While that makes sense, it isn’t someone being reported because of something stupid. It’s a rape threat. People who file complaints because they have been threatened by rape should at least get a noreply email from the company telling them the person who threatened them that their abuser has been suspended/expelled/even being looked into by the government if things get bad enough. I’m sure people on Xbox break laws in terms of harassment and not tiny, insignificant laws, but laws that could get them thrown in jail. Of course, I am fallible so correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Anonymous

    They banned over a Million users who had Modded consoles I believe in a grand sweep, and there are still a considerably large amount of modders online. I couldn’t imagine how much complaints are filed for general harassment since insulting someone is much simpler then modding a console.

  • Fiona

    Xbox has always disgusted me, now I’m just counting down the days until they get shut down.

  • Anonymous

    Threats of any kind are usually overlooked if they aren’t acted upon in a certain way by the perpetrator. Cyber Stalking or spoofing is illegal, but very difficult to prove or substantiate because of the inner-workings of the internet itself. Ip addresses although location based on the WAN side can be faked and don’t lead up to pertinent data if they can’t prove The account is owned by the user in the Location of the WAN Address.

    Micorsoft will co-operate with police if the matter is serious enough but even that comes at a risk to people concerned about privacy as some users of Facebook became after certain events. So the matter is deeply drenched in a PR Nightmare if it isn’t taken seriously. This is why they can’t act as a private policing force for individuals who have been threatened with anything. It would cost more money to do as well as scare a considerable portion of consumers away. Right now they act as a mediator which is the optimal position for the Enforcement team.

  • Ann Wright

    It’s probably down to the response systems they use. The Twitter response team most likely belongs to a third-party company (moderation companies usually deal with that kind of thing for big corporations), so that’s probably why they can’t/won’t comment on harrassment reports made in-game.
    In-game moderation systems are also tricky – there have been some interesting developments recently, but they’re far from perfect. I’m willing to bet that Hanniver’s report got lost in the huge level of reports the mod team gets every day… Hopefully serious protests like yours will show them that they have to either invest in a better report storage and response system or just hire more moderators..

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    In most countries, we are innocent until proven guilty. I don’t see why you wouldn’t have to prove it…it would get very complicated for them, policing judicially. Like I said elsewhere, I’m surprised they bother at all.

  • Fiona

    Of course it would cause controversy and it would be complicated, but the fact that they won’t help out when people are being threatened… it’s worrying. It makes me glad I don’t use Xbox Live when playing these kinds of games.

  • Fiona

    Ah, I see what you mean. Of course, if Xbox does have the means to figure out just what happened, I think it should be taken a bit more seriously, especially if the complaint has even the chance of having very serious legal grounds.

    I do understand that it would cost a lot of money for Microsoft and that isn’t Microsoft’s fault, but in that case a less-costly method should be found to investigate these cases. At the same time, I think it might be in Microsoft’s best interest to investigate the cases that have been brought to light *because* of this PR nightmare.

    I also have a feeling this ‘Phil’ isn’t the greatest representative of a support team…

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I can agree with that.

  • Anonymous

    Two weeks was 8/6, if you literally mean couple.

    Part of this brouhaha is a question of transparency in policy – how long does it take to investigate and have action taken? What actions are ultimately taken for what level of threat? The individual’s involved privacy should be protected, the process should not. Also, nearly three weeks seems like a long time IMHO. Maybe for an ultimately long investigation into all this guy’s chats to see if he’s done this multiple times, but a preliminary ruling on the rape threat & chat records she was able to provide the support team shouldn’t take weeks.

  • Anonymous

    My X-box died quite some time ago, but I do remember you need some kind of account to go online. (And don’t you have to pay for that account somehow?) This guy could have an elaborate set-up with fake IP addresses, pay for pre-paid cards in cash and have multiple sock puppet accounts. But all this is somewhat beside the point, because the concern is not to find the actual individual who was behind the attack be found and face charges.

    The concern expressed is the username that issued the rape threat is still active and participating in games. While suspending or closing an account is potentially a temporary solution (as the person could open another), people still have invested a lot of time in unlocking achievements and building a reputation for that username. That someone can issue ghastly threats and still keep that privilege is somewhat disheartening.

  • Anonymous

    Well they do have Tiers for the kind of Suspension to a Ban. Blocking Communications I believe is what they do for the more aggressive users. Suspensions and bans don’t happen as much because they’re more severe and don’t really remedy the situation if it is the only alternative. The user can play all the online games they desire but they can neither chat or message anyone. That could also be why you still see these users online. The only real way to get banned outright is by Circumventing the system in anyway.

  • DarthRachel

    part of the complaint is that this “enforcement” dept seems to be mythical. or at least they dont have anyone you can speak to. and they directed me to directions on HOW to lodge a complaint against another user. but not about how their complaint evaluations work, how long it should take or where to go for follow up information. same problem that Jill had.

  • Lea Tapp

    If we stand together and speak out on this and how it reflects a larger society where harassment and misogyny are the norm and concern for protecting the perpetrator while silencing and making further demands of the victim pervades, then yeah, it will change. But it won’t change by itself.

  • Lea Tapp

    Nope, not just among “morons”. Sexual harassment and chilly climate happen in academia and politics too. This is just one more front in the war on women.

  • andrepartthree

    Wow just…. wow.. thanks as always to JIll for bringing stuff like this to our attention.. If I’m reading this article correctly there’s an actual recording of this dreg-of-humanity making these threat-comments and there’s STILL no action being taken against him? One would hope at the very least the police would take some sort of action against him – though I’m not a lawyer, have no idea what the legalities involved would be… but whether or not he can be prosecuted or what-not for it as far as the sheer morals of it the guy is pure slime, that much I think any of the commentators here agree on (again based on what I’ve seen here so far) … privacy be hanged I agree with the commentators here who are saying make this person’s name public AND get a pic posted of him right next to an audio file of the recording, clickable on the ‘net for all to see – and as far as the privacy advocates enraged by what I just said – if you don’t have anything to hide why are you so worried about hiding it?…. as far as the commentators who are brushing it off as “big deal everyone gets trolled”… at the risk of being accused of .. I dunno what the word is ” female chauvinism ” ? … I can’t help but wonder if the people brushing it off are men.. I’m a guy and I freely admit I will never be able to understand just how deeply upsetting and frightening this sort of thing would be for a woman to hear – I’m not a woman so I’ll never ” get it ” the way they do.. but I like to think that I’m sympathetic .. and cripes if even as a male with my (admitted limited) perspective I can grasp just how incredibly WRONG this is, I think it goes without saying what happened here is a BIG deal ..

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s Microsoft’s fault, but it is Microsoft’s responsibility. If you owned a venue where customers congregate – store, a roller rink, a movie theater, a dance hall, etc. if there was a rowdy, harassing customer, it would be expected you would take matters from discretely saying a word to the offender to calling the police, depending what is needed. The venue is virtual, but the responsibility to all your customers remain.

  • Fiona

    Exactly, you said it better than I could :D

  • Anonymous

    They’re enacting a system on the XboxOne that puts people with bad reps in the same matches with each other rather then spreading them about to users who aren’t so aggressive in making venomous comments and general bad game ethics. I don’t think that they’re protecting people, There are just more legal red tape when it is a payed service. If they seem to be taking anyone’s side in any matter it will ultimately force them into a sanctum of politics which is a terrible spot for any service provider as it will divide the community greatly. In the end they care about money, not making sure everyone is safe, and still allowing these people to play online even if it is communications suspended is a better situation for everyone then having their console essentially bricked.

  • Anonymous

    I am approaching this from a position of complete ignorance, so please grant me a seemingly flame-worthy question:

    Is there any difference between a random person on Xbox Live (or the internet) saying hateful things that are rape-based, and a “serious rape threat?”

    I am not asking from a legal perspective, I’m more asking from a social perspective.

  • Guest

    He’s not violently angry and hateful just because a woman is playing the same game. He’s hateful because he’s a fucking griefer, and if she weren’t a woman, he’d be harassing her over some other thing. If MS can’t handle the griefers on its system swiftly and surely — especially if they’ve escalated their bullshit to include rape threats — then it has no business running a gaming hub.

  • Alias Jones

    I agree that MS needs to be held accountable for what happens on it’s system… but that guy who made the comments in the first place needs to also be held accountable and share some blame.

  • Alias Jones

    There should be a website where extreme trolls – those who threaten physical violence – are exposed.

  • Alias Jones

    I don’t know if there’s a ‘war on women’, just a vast amount of ignorant man-boys who use the anonymity of the internet to say things they’d never have the courage to stand up and say in person. They’re cowards.

  • Vian Lawson

    Practically speaking, no there isn’t. Because if there were, that would put the responsibility onto the abused person to work out which was which. If someone says, however “jokingly” that they are going to track me down and rape me, or that I need a good raping, it’s serious to me. Because while it might just be a hateful, impotent little jerk, it might also be a psychopath, and I don’t know which is which.

  • Ross Van Loan

    I don’t think they’re the norm : I think we’re dealing with a very vocal tribe of Troglodytes, not Society. The very fact that this conversation, and others like it, exists means that progress is being made.

  • Anonymous

    What if a guy says it to another guy?

  • Anonymous

    Again, it’s not just on the internet. Watch The Daily Show or Colbert Report sometime. They JUST had a woman who had written, directed, and starred in her own movie who, while she was talking with a tech guy before a screening to make sure it everything would look perfect, had a journalist say, “Awww it’s like you’re a real director.”

    Not to mention the BS politicians routinely smear all over female politicians and constituents without any anonymity. Misogyny is alive and well in every aspect and outlet of our culture and there’s no mainstream 90′s Grrl Power to counteract it.

  • Anonymous

    If it were between people that know each other they wouldn’t report it anyhow. But given that usually it is between perfect strangers I, personally, don’t see a difference if the target happens to be male or female. A threat of violence is a threat of violence.

  • Vian Lawson

    Well, it’s still a threat of sexual violence, isn’t it? It’s not like guys don’t get raped. And in a team game where others, male and female, are present, it also adds to an environment where threats of sexual violence are allowed and tacitly encouraged. Because, again, you never know when there’s a psycho in your midst.

  • Anonymous

    Again, ignorance here, I don’t have an Xbox; is it really easy to find out people’s personal information like where they live and stuff?

  • Vian Lawson

    And now, imagine someone doing it to you. You personally, not a theoretical, impervious you, but the you who is reading this message.

    Imagine that you logged on, intending to have a bit of fun-and-fragging, and there was a creepy voice mail from some guy saying he was going to come to your house, rape you and subject to to god knows what else. And imagine, if you can, that you lived with the possibility of sexual assault every day anyhow, and you had no idea whether they were just a sad little dork, or a dangerous serial sex offender, or someone who’d stopped taking his meds and was on a bender.

    If someone threatened you with sexual violence, and left you a creepy voice mail, and you didn’t take it seriously enough to have them banned, what would happen when they turned out to be the real deal, and showed up at your school, or your workplace, or your home?

  • Vian Lawson

    Depends on the person. If your Facebook or twitter feed or blog or instagram or whatever has your x-box tag on it, even once, that can be enough for someone who knows what they are doing to track you down. And if your tag and your RL name are linked anywhere, it’s even easier.

  • Alias Jones

    I don’t dispute that misogyny is alive and well, and that there are numerous examples in everyday life and around the world. What I question is that this indicates a ‘war on women’ as it were, any more than the Zimmerman verdict is indicative of a ‘war on Blacks’.

    Example of a deep-seated cultural, social problem that needs to be addressed? Yes. Cultural War? I don’t feel so.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, certainly. In fact, I think assuming that morons are just gamers is an insult to the proud tradition of obtuseness that the moron culture has aspired to create across all facets of life.

    I simply use the term to refer to a specific breed of morons (I know you’re pretty much agreeing with me, I just couldn’t resist).

  • Anonymous

    It’s not “just because a woman is playing the same video game”. Some of these guys have major life issues and they are looking to video games to provide them with a “safe” place where they can “rock” and let out their aggression. Having women around who can possibly beat them is only throwing them back to their life issues and inferiority complex.

    And by “these guys”, I mean the misogynistic bullies, not men in general. A lot of guys just play to have fun, like female gamers do.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I’m trying to evaluate the article given the information provided and filling in the blanks of my ignorance.

    From what I can tell, Microsoft Employees are not allowed to say if/what/when they do to respond to complaints, and I’m not sure reading through the chronology when that became a problem. I’m also trying to establish in my head if the original person who brought up the issue, and the subsequent author of this article, believed there to be a real threat to this person’s livelihood, and if so, why they didn’t contact the police immediately.

    This whole post from the title seems to lay blame on Xbox Support, and I can’t tell why. They can’t comment to anyone on their process or if/when they do anything, so I don’t understand why people are surprised that they aren’t saying anything about what they did/didn’t do?

  • Anonymous

    It’s important someone JAQs off all over this thread so we can see how silly we ladies are being and how badly we are dealing with these situations. I, for one, feel enlightened.

  • Joanna

    The point of the matter is that threats of ANY kind are AGAINST Microsoft’s T & C’s and are a bannable offence. Why then do Microsoft NOT follow through with their own terms when their service is being used to threaten others?

  • Vincent Rutherford

    Please structure your reply properly; the wall of text approach is no good.

    People take the internet super seriously, and some things on the internet should be taken seriously, for example your personal details, or your bank account details. Some take every last bit of the internet seriously. People who complain about every little threat join that group. Not everything on the internet should be taken seriously, such as petty threats. My first advice for those people are to look around and see if the internet follows you. Also, there are simple ways to get rid of these people including block lists, muting etc.

    There are also people who do not take the internet seriously. Those people are able to recognize that the internet isn’t life. They will take advantage over people who think the internet is super serious by insulting them and trying to provoke a reaction or just because. They also know how to ignore the insults.

    Both groups can be insulted by he same person, but how the two groups deal with it is incredibly different.

  • Joanna

    When I was a kid I was bullied. I was always told to ignore it but it didn’t really help and the bullies got away without consequence for their actions against me. Saying “just ignore it” means that people can be assholes all they like and not see it bite them in the ass. The internet is a terrible medium for bullying.

  • http://caramellattekiss.com/ Georgina

    Then why don’t they direct them to correct place to make the complaint?
    If someone comes through to my office line in marketing when they actually want the workshop, I don’t say “not my department” and hang up. I tell them where they can get the information they’re looking for.

  • Anonymous

    Is there someway we can use this to shame him?

  • Anonymous

    Sure. That’s why the Norfolk, Va police department ONLY THIS WEEK started assuming rape complainants AREN’T lying. Because misogyny isn’t the norm. http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/08/13/2457991/virginia-law-enforcement-rape/

  • The Gaf

    You’d think all gameplay contact was recorded somewhere (at least for the previous 12-24-48hrs), making it easy to review the incident quickly.

  • Ross Van Loan

    Society has been becoming safer, more enlightened and rational ever since Civilization began. Setbacks have occurred but today life is vastly, vastly better in all arenas. It’s a human, and therefore inherently messy, progress but it is happening and it will usher in change.

    To utilize your example, not that long ago the police wouldn’t have received those complaints as society tolerated the horrors of domestic abuse. However, It is becoming more and more difficult as time passes for the perpetrators to escape castigation and punishment as their deeds are revealed to an ever more aware & outraged society.

    You see a single negative event : I’m looking at a vast positive process.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm… Thank you. I knew they had some sort of tiers, but I didn’t really know about the Blocking communications level. Out of curiosity, how do you know if another player is under a BC? From another perspective, Is there an icon to tell you why they can’t respond or is the BC’d player just silent one day? (It sounds like this issue hasn’t been resolved, since last update I heard the team promised to tell her the resolution when it happened).

  • Anonymous

    They can’t actually tell you if action had been taken at all. They only act as a mediator of the Code of Conduct and are more there to dissolve matters between players instead of giving them any rectification for their concerns. That in itself seems bad, but business wise it is a good thing. They want everyone’s money including people who make threats of all kind as well as more mindful people. They just made a system that keeps their Business interests as well as individual player interests as happy as possible. They are adding another stipulation to the Reputation system for the XboxOne that has people with generally bad reps only allowed to play games together rather then with more mindful people.

  • Anonymous

    First off a lot of the people including the author need to grow up and get a thicker skin. Ever heard of sticks and stones? Maybe you should look it up. This article just further proves how little the author or most people know about the work of the Enforcement team. They do a great job and they get rid a lot of abusers daily and some times it’s not easy figuring out the real complaints and the fake ones (yes people file false reports). Maybe before laying blame blindly you should do some actual research (real journalists do it) and learn how the Xbox Enforcement team works.

    But to say that Microsoft shrugs off rape is irresponsible and wrong and the title should be changed if this site or it’s author has any sort of integrity.

    I’m not saying that I condone this type of assholes behaviour because I don’t and I file reports when I hear stuff like this all the time but I also use the block and mute button and if this person had they wouldn’t have received any more messages from him. I think people like this guy should be perma banned because I don’t want those types of people gaming in my community or bothering my female friends but I also think people need to get a thicker skin and stop making a bigger deal out of nothing. File a report, block, mute & move on. Everyone else on Xbox and PS3 can do it why is this person or others like her unable to grasp that simple concept.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Thanks for reading. As you’ll note, neither the title nor the post says anything about Microsoft shrugging off rape. It says reporting rape threats is frustrating as explained by Haniver and in turn, myself while trying to sort through all of this. In Haniver’s case, it should be easy to figure out it’s a legit report, she has recordings.

    We also mention in the post the positive things Microsoft is doing, the Enforcement team included.

    Please be sensitive to others and do not suggest they shrug off something that legitimately affects them. I’m sure you wouldn’t like to be told that yourself if you were the one being attacked. Some are affect more than others by online threats, it may not be a big deal to you but it is to others as you can see by some of the comments on this story.

  • Juhis815

    This is just one of these reasons why I stay away from Call of Duty games, but I do wonder why Microsoft took so long to respond to the message.

  • andrepartthree

    UH OH ! The internet police says no walls of text ! I am SO incredibly sorry that my comments don’t meet up to your standards Vincent can you EVER forgive me ? (prostrates himself begging Vincent’s forgiveness).

    (rolls eyes) Grammar nazis and internet trolls .. my oh my some people’s children (rolls eyes again ) .. Far as I’m concerned that’s a form of bullying right there which slides me right into Joanna’s comment – thanks for that Joanna :) .. far as ” Mr. Vincent ” here .. when a moderator targets me for walls of text I’ll start taking it seriously – until then my tendency will be to ignore people such as yourself who don’t have an issue with attacking people who don’t meet up to their grammar-standards.

  • andrepartthree

    Thanks Joanna :) ..

  • Anonymous

    Where is your evidence that they didn’t follow through. I know someone who was banned, and their profile didn’t change, messages could still be sent to that user (though they wouldn’t get delivered), etc. There is no visual evidence available to outsiders when someone is banned, therefore, where is any evidence that action was not taken immediately?

  • Anonymous

    Question, (to author)…

    Does anyone have any ACTUAL evidence that nothing was done right away? Right away as in like, the day she sent in the complaint? Like is there actual proof that no action had been taken?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know why my reply didn’t go through, but I’m curious as to whether or not there’s any ACTUAL evidence that no action had been taken prior to bringing this to the media’s attention?

  • Joanna

    I follow the woman in question on Twitter who kept everyone up to date on the situation. She linked the offenders XBL account which was active after she made the complaint.

  • Vincent Rutherford

    I said please. All it does is make your response look well structured, that’s all.

  • Ryan Colson

    I don’t have an XBox, but I bet people who can can point it out when he’s a jerk in public next time…

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely.

  • Anonymous

    There’s no way to tell whether or not a user is banned by their account status, they don’t “deactivate” the account, they leave everything in place and prevent the user from logging in. I would imagine so that they don’t delete their gamerscore and achievements in the case they appeal or get “unbanned” for whatever reason. The only thing that a “Ban” does is prevent the user from logging in.

  • igor242

    That wouldn’t be smart of Microsoft and would lead to class action lawsuits, banning on military bases etc. We just saw this with the xbox one announce and the kinect required PR disaster. Also technically its against the law to record someone’s voice without consent. (a little enforced law for sure, but actual law non-the-less)

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    The recording was in a private voice message to her on their service. Pretty sure they can check that.

  • igor242

    Proof they can check that? 99% of xbl communication is peer2peer.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    “When you block communication, it will remove the message from your inbox. If this is your only communication source with the offending user, please make sure you file a complaint before blocking communication with that user.” via http://forums.xbox.com/xbox_forums/xbox_support/f/26/t/19139.aspx

    That leads me to believe Microsoft has the ability to check users’ account messages in cases of harassment or threats.

  • igor242

    Again you make assumptions. Under no part of xbox live TOS, does Microsoft require implied consent for listening to or keeping a log of audio recordings, between parties where 1 isn’t Microsoft themselves. Therefore them doing so, would VIOLATE LAW.

    The same law that got Linda Tripp in trouble with the law during Clinton’s Presidency over recording voice chats with Monica Lewinsky.

    Also I love how you ignored the fact I posted about 99% of Live traffic being pure peer2peer.

    Furthermore, I would highly encourage you to stop making judgements using assumptions without any proof to back up your assumptions. Its not fair to anyone and there is the old saying about assuming things.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    You asked for proof, I gave what I believe to be proof. I don’t know what your point was about the 99%.

    The first portion I pasted leads me to believe they can listen to your message. They don’t want you to block them or else the message will be deleted. I don’t see what else that could mean. The TOS says, “You should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features (for example, voice chat.” I’m not a lawyer so I can’t speak to the legality of that but they are a company and it seems to be from the wording there you are agreeing to having your communication monitored if you accept the TOS. “We may monitor these communications to the EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.” I’m pretty sure they covered their bases with their legal team before putting all of this into their TOS.

    I’m not sure why you aren’t accepting the information I have provided. It seems as though you are purposefully trying to prove the victim in this case to be a liar and that’s not acceptable. You said earlier, “But even 1 person banned on xbl wrongfully over a fake report is too many people when the service is a payed service,” but to me, even one legit offender not being banned is too much.

    Thank you for reading, you may disagree with me but this is my final word on the topic. Feel free to do your own research online if you aren’t satisfied with the links I have provided.

  • igor242

    Exactly you are not a lawyer. Furthermore the law doesn’t allow any Voice recording without permission. That permission must be gotten each and every time. (This would be why when you call customer service lines they say the line “your call may be recorded for training purposes” giving them implied consent EVERYTIME you call versus just putting in contract or TOS “we will record your conversation everytime you call us”)

    Also worth mentioning is the fact that Xbox Live is a world wide service, and must conform to every country’s laws its located in, many of which actually have better privacy laws then the USA does. As for my 99% comment about peer2peer, that signifies that said communications occur directly between consoles, MS has no part in it. They cannot legally have any part in it.

    Furthermore I’m sure in Microsofts TOS you’ll find a part about severance, (if any part of the contract is deemed illegal that part will be severed, while the rest remains intact) Its very common for service providers to give themselves all sorts of “rights” and “privlidges” they can’t actually use because of existing laws, and then protect themselves from invalidating their TOS by using a severance clause.

    Please stop ignoring easily verifiable laws, please stop operating on assumptions, please stop picking and choosing what part of their TOS you use to back up your biased agenda, and please, please, please realize that Yes like I said sometimes bad things happen and people get away with it. That doesn’t mean it has anything to do with failure to take action, or failure to care, or really any kind of failure at all. Microsoft operates in a highly litigious world wide environment and as such is gonna tread on eggshells anytime they have to deal with such conscientious issues as peoples privacy related to voice talking.

  • Not Impressed

    I think it’s great when mental health professionals like yourself participate in discussions about important social issues such as this. Based on what you know thus far, what kind of mental illness would you say this man has?

  • Anonymous

    But how does she know the account is “active”? There would be no visual evidence that the user who owned the account was able to log in. Are you understanding what I’m saying? There is ZERO visual evidence when someone is banned from XBL, the only thing that happens is that they are unable to log in. How does she know he could still log in?

  • Joanna

    You can see a person’s account status by viewing that account on the XBL site in a browser.

  • LifeLessons

    Shame shame shame on you Microsoft.

  • Anonymous

    You can only see that an account “exists” it will not tell you if they are able to log in. Read the follow up story on this site, action was taken immediately, they just weren’t allowed to say “we took action.” This was all about the plaintiff “feeling” good about it, not about them actually addressing the situation.

  • Joanna

    Go to XBL site. Login or find someone’s profile or whatever. See where it says “Last seen” under the avatar? That’s when the user was last logged in to XBL.

    Action may have been taken immediately but the harasser was still active for a few weeks after the report and Haniver hadn’t heard any feedback from Microsoft whatsoever. For all she knew they had been sitting on their hands the whole time. People should feel safe using a service which is what Microsoft failed to do.

  • PRXJXCTTRXLL

    It’s a video game.

  • Anonymous

    Many parents would refuse to believe their kid did such a thing.

  • Binary Recoil

    This has made me take an abrupt turn in enjoying video games. Not only is E3 not something I can ever attend (despite it being my dream from childhood) as it’s not okay for regular people to go to anymore, but that such an unforgivable act of blatant sexual harassment took place & nothing was done about it during E3. That an obvious criminal activity took place through live & they don’t seem to care about it more than they’d care about a fly sitting on top of their computer monitor……

    I’m glad that I just got angry from Downloadable Content NOT working since I’m not hooked up to the internet/Live & decided to do some more research. Microsoft/Xbox 360/Live have managed to keep me continuously enraged to their failures over the past year. From hacked servers (that they don’t care about as long as it’s in a game like original modern warfare, after modern warfare 3 has launched) to hackers stealing money directly from direct deposit users bank accounts. From the DEMAND that I give them access to my e-mail for my account to function on Live, to DEMANDING that if you want to continue into the next generation of Consoles that you Must have a constant internet connection (which is impossible for me, Hughes Net/Dish Network & Xbox Live don’t get along). Losing my first profile name due to insane incompetence; being redirected to phone operators that didn’t speak English, and an absolute refusal to help me change the e-mail that screenname was under.
    From the fact that regardless that I only used a microphone for about 3 hours in over 2,000 hours of online play in the past- but have Hundreds of “Trash Talking” strikes against my name because of pre-pubescent retards that refuse to take the extra 10 seconds to scroll down and select “Player is too Good”/Beat the hell out of me too often. Even continuing to actually ruin this era of gaming by pushing a foundation of the gaming industry (Bethesda) around and telling them that “mods” (user generated content) is absolutely not acceptable to be loaded onto other users Xbox’s for game advancement/plotline advancement. (Which absolutely RUINS 90% of the reason to play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim- since by June of 2014, Skyrim will literally become “Nirn” from the amount of user generated map space that’s about to be opened up. They’re literally opening up the rest of the games lore & world by creating all previous “Countries” like Skyrim that have existed to this date.)
    Even going so far as to butcher their own best seller, the Halo series, by purchasing it & EVERY company that worked to create the games- to then decide the future of the entire games plotline/gaming genre by demanding it remain a First Person Shooter/destroying an almost complete MMORPG of it & the persistent lack of quality in such series’ so Microsoft’s ridiculous release deadline can be met, while insuring that a continuation to Halo Wars (an RTS) is never possible by scrapping that company too.
    Even going so far as to take no ethical stance and continue to support the Call of Duty franchise after the developers contracts were revoked over putting “pot symbols” in Modern Warfare 2, leaving those guys lost to their own creation while stealing billions from them. [proving that the people at Microsoft & Activision share a similar root of supporting how the Chemical Industry has found its way into destroying mankind's right to choose their own paths/ Destinies while holding the entire Human Civilization in a state of near non advancement for profit for over a century- but this is really a different story. Basically, their actions are screaming that they're happy for us to be entrenched in the legal definition of slavery]

    Video Games are this Era of Mankind’s art, this generations bedtime stories, so deeply rooted in our society that they are part of what we hope to have for our most cherished gifts in some instances. Microsoft has done enough to ruin this aspect of civilization for their profit & proven that they absolutely do NOT have what it takes to be considered “Worthy” of being part of the evolution of gaming, while going out of their way to treat gaming creators themselves as disposable in their aims. On TOP of consistently out dating their own software and forcing us to pay for it again & again if you’re so unlucky as to still be using “Windows” (its name is a literal representation of what it is, that’s how many holes every model of that operating system has had in it’s security).
    Instead of getting the next generation of Console at all, I think I’ll focus on buying the newest model of computer- to then purchase the games I want for it (usually at a cheaper price anyway). I’ll also be going as far out of my way as is needed to NEVER allow my computer to run a Microsoft owned program- unless it’s locked in a truecrypt/virtual box, to the point where it never has any actual foundation on the hardware I PAY For, again.

  • Binary Recoil

    I remembered just as I was about to walk away/surf away. Microsoft also CREATED Inflation in the prices of the video game industry. I remember going to Gamestop one day and seeing Too Human for 5$. Before the Weekend they brought it out on Xbox Live as a “Buy this game digitally” but it was for 30$ (it’s not worth more than 5$, the game was never technically completed). I figured they were happily trying to screw themselves, but when I went back to check- Gamestop had upped the price to 30$, right alongside Xbox Lives digital price.
    And then there are games that you can only ever play 1/2 of, because they release a “Arcade” game, that’s truly incredible but then go & hire another company to create the OTHER 1/2 OF THE GAME as a cell phone game to promote their newest model of “pick your failure” that they’re coming out with & then Never allow you to play that other half on xbox live, even when people come together and proclaim they’d be willing to pay for it. I really need to stop, I’m certain I can keep ranting about this disgusting rot that’s masquerading as a Company/Corporation attempting to create Entertainment for us, for a while longer should I try.

  • Yaboiksar

    I know this is crazy old but I didn’t notice anyone had responded so I feel like it’s rude of me not to reply.

    That kind of shit talking is “new” to me meaning the people I’ve always played with online (granted, usually people I knew well or at least had spoken to online before we played) never used that kind of talk. My husband and I always shit talk with each other because it’s just fun. Same for my sister and my friends/online friends. But it’s never crossed my mind to say something hurtful to someone over a video game.

    I just meant “new” in that the thinking that must go into being that way towards another human being is beyond rationality for me.

    Unfortunately, I am well aware of how people can be treated while gaming online.

  • Anonymous

    Well said Ross, well said.