'Less than one percent' of Xbox Live users are 'bad apples'

Has someone ever verbally questioned your sexuality? Has anyone ever yelled lewd insults about your mother, before threatening to kill you? Sadly, the answer is most likely "yes," if you've ever jumped into a match on Xbox Live with your headset on. However, Microsoft's Stephen Toulouse says that the community is improving. Toulouse is in charge of Xbox Live's Policy and Enforcement team, and by his admission, "the cross-section of bad apples we deal with every day is small – typically less than one percent of the overall population."

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"If you're playing a game on Xbox Live, and somebody snipes you from across the map and you drop the F-bomb, we're not going to ban you--not for the occasional slip. We focus on the really bad stuff," Boris Erickson, Xbox Live Enforcement Unicorn Ninja said in a press release. "We are not here to be the arbiters of all speech. But there are certainly some kinds of communication on Xbox Live that crosses a line--racism, homophobia, sexism, offensive comments about nationalities, and more."

The service now boasts 35 million users, but according to Toulouse, "the user complaint volume has tended to stay relatively flat compared to the line of new users." He concludes that the efforts of the Enforcement team--such as banning paying members from the service--are having an impact. But could the Xbox's expanding casual audience be having an effect as well? According to Toulouse, the answer is also "yes."

"We're bringing in different people that want to experience different things on Xbox Live, not just gaming, and at the end of the day that's going to improve everything," he added. Good, because it would be even worse if my mom started cursing me out in Halo 4.