Xbox CEO Dave McCarthy told Sky News that Microsoft is working closely with politicians on legislative security reforms as the Online Security Bill is under scrutiny in the House of Lords after MPs approved it in January.
By Martin Kimber, Gaming Reporter
Sunday, February 12, 2023 07:23, UK
Xbox’s corporate vice president told Sky News “there is no magic bullet” to protect women and minorities online who experience online harassment and abuse.
Dave McCarthy said it only takes one toxic experience on a platform and “Your trust in an online space instantly dissipates as it should”.
In an interview outlining Microsoft Xbox’s renewed commitment to online safety, Mr McCarthy told Sky News about the tools the gaming giant uses to keep children and others safe on its platform.
“This is an ongoing thing that we have to hold onto and we have these tools in place and we take ownership,” he said.
One of those measures, he says, is the use of artificial intelligence, which sifts through billions of messages and images on the Xbox platform and identifies abusive behavior.
“There are AI solutions that are used to detect things like bot accounts that are causing problems,” he said.
Mr McCarthy said Xbox uses various AI learning models, citing ChatGPT as an example of such a machine-based learning feature.
More about artificial intelligence
The AI finds abusive bot accounts by identifying certain behavioral patterns.
But Mr McCarthy stressed the need to “supplement” that artificial intelligence with human intelligence as well.
“While these detection algorithms allow us to find the needles in the haystack at scale, we still need humans to confirm these things are happening,” he said.
He said Xbox employs language specialists who work with their AI to identify the latest forms of language and euphemisms used to harass or spread hate online.
Image: Xbox Corporate Vice President Dave McCarthy
Importance of the appeal process
When asked why players on the Xbox platform should be confident that their concerns will be heard and acted upon, Mr. McCarthy addressed the appeals process.
“It’s going to sound strange, but having an appeals process is actually a powerful thing for us because it shows people that we’re listening and we’re looking at things multiple times and they have a course of action,” he said.
“This is a journey that never ends. We’ve made progress in areas like accessibility and sustainability, but in some ways this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are never finished in this area.”
After changes to the hotly debated online safety law, tech bosses could face up to two years in prison for failing to protect children online.
The bill would force managers of platforms hosting user-generated content to take “reasonable steps” 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 on areas like privacy.
The Minecraft Privacy Prodigy educational program teaches kids how to protect their privacy and stay safe online.
The initiative follows calls by Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, on Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday for Britons to remove the video app TikTok, popular with children, from their phones to prevent alleged Chinese intelligence gathering.
Social media bosses could face jail after Sunak pulled out online safety law
Four out of five adults want social media bosses to be held legally accountable when children are hurt 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 great pleasure of coming out for Westminster Games Week last autumn, which is a very encouraging discussion that the industry is having with Government.
“My personal experience with regulators, including the UK, is that they very much welcome dialogue.”
He called for “great legislation” to ensure Big Tech meets the standards it should.
The Online Safety Bill is currently under consideration in the House of Lords after MPs voted in favor of it in January.