A software update for the PlayStation 4 was released this week. This caused a stir, as users were informed that their voice chats can now be recorded and checked by Sony. You can’t refuse: Anyone who continues to use the voice chat function automatically agrees.
Reports that Sony employees are now eavesdropping on private conversations spread rapidly in forums and social networks. Sony tried to defuse the situation and said: It is a feature of the new PlayStation 5, which will be released in November. Users can report voice chats for moderation. PS4 users have to agree, as they could be in the same voice chat with PS5 players in the future.
But this explanation came late and caused even more trouble: “Why do I have to be bugged on the PS4 if I can’t even use this feature myself?” Asked many users. Some accused Sony even of using this feature as an excuse to eavesdrop on the conversations using artificial intelligence and to use the information collected for marketing purposes.
Sony explains function
Sony is now trying to limit the damage and explains the feature in detail. In a blog post, Sony apologizes that this feature has not been adequately explained so far. The feature is used to report verbal attacks in voice chat, harassment and insults. Sony makes it clear that employees are not actively listening in live and never will.
To use this feature, players who have been harassed must submit a report to Sony. Up to 40 seconds of the voice chat can be attached to this report: 20 seconds from the reported conversation, plus 10 seconds before and after. These 20 seconds can only be selected from the most recent 5 minutes of the conversation – so not all of the chat is recorded by the PS5.
The report with the 40 seconds of voice chat is sent directly from the PS5 to Sony. There, employees check the incident and take action if necessary. Sony does not say what measures these are. The blog entry only speaks of “an opportunity for guidance and education”. There will be no opt-out procedure for the function. Anyone who uses voice chat can be recorded and reported.
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