An unannounced PlayStation 5 feature became known to the world thanks to the latest PlayStation 4 firmware update, but the PlayStation team wants to assure its users that the new tool doesn’t mean it’ll be listening in on voice chats.
The feature itself looks like an interesting attempt to expand the system-level tools that fight against online toxicity, though the unintentional reveal didn’t do much to set players minds at ease.
In the clarification shared to the PlayStation Blog, global consumer experience VP Catherine Jensen explains that the new PlayStation 5 reporting tool aims to let players report verbal harassment experienced through voice chat.
The feature quietly debuted through the PlayStation 4’s 8.00 system update due to the fact that PlayStation 5 users can participate in chats with PlayStation 4 users and as such the update needed to include an advisory about the PS5 feature.
The tool won’t record and retain voice conversations indefinitely; rather, Jensen explains that it’ll capture a 40 second long clip for the PlayStation team to review and only if the chat occurred in the last five minutes.
Interestingly, only half of the 20 second clip is the selection chosen by the reporting party. PlayStation says the tool is set up to also capture and include the 10 seconds both preceding and following the selected conversation, likely to ensure some of the context is preserved once the voice clip is passed along to the moderation team.
“These reports can be submitted directly through the PS5 console, and will be sent to our Consumer Experience team for moderation, who will then listen to the recording and take action, if needed,” says Jensen. “Some submitted reports won’t be valid, and our team will take this as an opportunity to provide guidance and education.”
It’s also worth noting that PlayStation won’t let its users opt out of the feature, a decision Jensen says was made because “we want all users to feel safe when playing with others online, not just those who choose to enable it.”