Activision Plans to Roll Out New Hate Speech Moderation System of Toxic Players
It is widely known that Call of Duty lobbies are full of hate speech and have been that way for some time. Even people who don’t play the game are made known by the sheer number of memes that get posted about the subject. But it looks as though that may soon be changing.
Activision has announced that they will soon be rolling out a new voice chat moderation system. This new service will be powered by ToxMod, which is an AI voice chat moderation tool from the people over at Modulate.
This technology will allow Activision to monitor chat in game at a more proficient level. The plan is to use this technology to filter out what they consider toxic speech. This includes hate speech, discriminatory language, and harassment.
Teams across Call of Duty are dedicated to combating toxicity within our games. - Callofduty.com
Now, Call of Duty already has a moderation system in play. This group is referred to as the anti-toxicity team. This system already allows for monitoring in game chat as well as handling the in-game player reporting system.
This team has been responsible for restricted access to over one million accounts already. With about twenty percent of players choosing to follow the terms of service within Call of Duty to avoid stricter penalties. Those who did not follow the terms of service would receive harsher penalties, like account restrictions.
For players that are concerned about false reporting scenarios, Call of Duty has a Security and Enforcement Policy to asses if reports are valid or not. All of this has been a clear effort on the part of Activision to be clear with players about what they will and will not allow in their chats.
It is important to clarify that this AI tool will not be taking action on its own. This tool will merely be reporting the infractions to Activision. "Call of Duty’s Voice Chat Moderation system only submits reports about toxic behaviour, categorised by its type of behaviour and a rated level of severity based on an evolving model," Activision explained. "Activision determines how it will enforce voice chat moderation violations."
For those players who don’t want their voice chat to be filtered through an AI program, Activision states that they can disable in game chat via the settings menu. But there is not currently a way to opt out of the voice chat moderate tool if you still want to use voice chat in their games.
“There’s no place for disruptive behaviour or harassment in games ever,” said Activision’s chief technology officer Michael Vance. “Tackling disruptive voice chat particularly has long been an extraordinary challenge across gaming. With this collaboration, we are now bringing Modulate’s state of the art machine learning technology that can scale in real-time for a global level of enforcement. This is a critical step forward to creating and maintaining a fun, fair and welcoming experience for all players.”
This new feature will roll out in beta form in North America on August 30th. It will affect both Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Call of Duty: Warzone. After its time in beta, the feature will have a full worldwide release on November 10th for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. This rollout will not have an effect in Asia.
The program will initially only be able to detect hate speech in English, with other languages coming out at a later date. ToxMod itself is fluent in 18 languages with more languages planned to be released in the future.
This all seems like a step in the right direction for fans of the game who would like to be able to play in a less hate speech filled environment. However, some players are leery about the capabilities of this new technology. Stating the concern that the voice chat feature is already unoptimized and that this may lead to unjustified flagging.
As always, only time will tell if this will be an effective deterrent to hate speech or not. But what can be said is that Activision should be praised for its stand against toxic speech. And for their attempt at making Call of Duty a safer and more welcoming gaming service for all players.