Xbox’s corporate vice-president has told Sky News there is “no silver bullet” for protecting women and minorities on the internet from online harassment and abuse.
Dave McCarthy says it only takes one harmful experience on a platform and “your trust in the online space is instantly gone, taken for granted”.
In an interview outlining Microsoft’s new Xbox commitment to online safety, Mr McCarthy told Sky News what tools the gaming giant uses to keep children and others safe on its platform.
“This is an ongoing thing, we have to stick with it, we have the tools in place and hold ourselves accountable,” he said.
One such measure, he said, is the deployment of artificial intelligence that can sift through billions of messages and images on the Xbox platform to identify abuse.
“AI solutions have been deployed to detect issues such as bot accounts causing problems,” he said.
Mr. McCarthy said Xbox uses various AI learning models, naming ChatGPT as an example of such machine-based learning capabilities.
AI detects abusive bot accounts by recognizing patterns in certain behaviors.
But Mr McCarthy stressed the need to “augment” AI with human intelligence as well.
“While these detection algorithms allow us to find needles in haystacks at scale, we still need humans to verify that these things are happening,” he said.
He said Xbox hired language experts to work alongside their AI to identify the latest language and euphemisms used to harass or spread hate online.
The Importance of the Appeals Process
Asked why gamers on the Xbox platform should trust their concerns to be heard and acted on, Mr McCarthy brought up the appeals process.
“It sounds weird, but for us, having an appeals process is actually a really important thing because it shows people that we’re listening, that we do take a multi-faceted look at things, that they do have A course of action,” he said.
“It’s a journey that never ends. We’ve made progress in areas like accessibility and sustainability, but in some ways it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’re never done in this area.”
Tech bosses could face up to two years in prison for failing to protect children online under amendments to a controversial online safety bill.
The bill would force managers of platforms hosting user-generated content to take “proportionate measures” to protect children from harmful material.
steps to protect children
Mr McCarthy highlighted the steps Xbox is taking to protect children, including using its popular Minecraft franchise to educate children in areas such as data protection.
The educational Minecraft Privacy Prodigy program teaches kids how to protect their data and stay safe online.
Alicia Kearns, chair of Britain’s foreign affairs select committee, called on Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday to remove TikTok, a video app popular with children, from their phones to prevent alleged Chinese intelligence gathering.
Social media boss could face jail time after Sunak vetoes online safety bill
Four in five adults want social media bosses to be held legally accountable if children are harmed by content
Why the Online Safety Act is so controversial
The Xbox boss told Sky News that Microsoft is working closely with politicians in the US and UK on legislative security reforms.
“I had the pleasure of participating in Westminster Games Week last autumn, a very exciting discussion between industry and government.
“My personal experience with regulators, including the UK, is that they are very open to dialogue.”
He called for “great legislation” to ensure Big Tech lives up to the standards it deserves.
The Online Safety Bill is currently being reviewed in the House of Lords after MPs approved it in January.