Sony has released new details about PlayStation 5’s recording of voice chats after the company appeared to be caught flattened earlier this week when it released the latest PlayStation 4 system software update and users were unexpectedly surprised by the feature.
“We did not clearly communicate this feature or explain why we introduced it, and we apologize,” said Catherine Jensen, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Vice President of Global Consumer Experience, in a PlayStation blog post Friday afternoon.
Following the release of PS4 system software version 8.00 on Wednesday, gamers began to see a notification and a message on the console about its party chat feature. The title “On Party Security”
Sony later updated its PlayStation blog post on firmware v8.00 to acknowledge the announcement and the “About Party Security” announcement, explaining that the recording feature would be available exclusively on PS5 when the console launched on November 12th. The update also said the feature allows users to submit the footage to Sony for moderation purposes. But the whole episode raised eyebrows among the PlayStation community, especially in terms of privacy, which led to Sony announcing further details on Friday.
All PlayStation users can file reports of violent players they encounter online, but only PS5 users have the option to submit a voice chat clip along with a report. Jensen clarified that PS5 users and PS4 users will be able to chat at parties together, necessitating the announcement in Wednesday’s PS4 firmware update to a feature that Sony apparently intended to explain later.
“If a PS5 player needs to submit a harassment report, they can include up to a 40-second Voice Chat clip in their report – 20 seconds of the main conversation with the other player plus an additional 10 seconds before and after the call selection,” he said. Jensen. “Only the last five minutes of a Voice Chat will be available for a player to use for this reporting feature.”
Recording is enabled by default on PS5, and users do not have the option to disable it.
“There will not be an option to deselect this Voice Chat recording feature because we want all users to feel secure when playing with others online, not just those who choose to enable it,” Jensen said. However, Jensen stressed that “this feature will does not actively monitor or listen to your conversations – ever. “Instead, the recording function is only reserved for recording audio that accompanies reports of abuse or harassment.
It sounds like the PS5 maintains a continuous recording of the last five minutes of chat, but that only one user can start the process of sending the sound to Sony. What is still unclear is whether the recording functionality applies to all voice chat, including in-game chat, or is limited to party chat only. (If players hear harassment or abuse online, it tends to come from random people they are thrown into a multiplayer match with – rather than someone they have invited to a party chat.) We have asked Sony for clarification and we I update this article with all the information we receive.
PS5 users can send these reports directly from the console. They go to the Consumer Experience division on PlayStation, where moderators review the complaint, listen to the recording, and take action if appropriate.
The PlayStation Community Code of Conduct prohibits hate speech, whether used or promoted; threatening, bullying, harassing or persecuting anyone; encourage someone to hurt themselves or someone else; or to be “vulgar or offensive” among other rules.
But behavior that deserves a sanction, as opposed to one that may just be angular or in bad taste, will not always be a clear case. “Some of the submitted reports are not valid, and our team will use this as an opportunity to provide guidance and training,” Jensen said.