PlayStation apologizes, clarifies PS5 voice chat recording feature details amid privacy concerns from players

The move sparked backlash from gamers on social media, with many calling the move an 'invasion of privacy'

Video game giant PlayStation is looking to quell privacy concerns from its players after they were notified of a new update coming to the gamemaker's Party chat feature on its PS5 consoles.

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Following the release of the PS4's 8.00 software update on Wednesday, a notification began to pop up on players' consoles titled “About Party Safety.” The advisory warned that PS5 users will now be to communicate across gaming consoles with PS4 users and record voice chats within parties to send to its parent company, Sony, for "safety and moderation purposes."

“Please be aware that voice chats in parties may be recorded and sent to us by other users," the note said, "By participating in voice chats, you agree to your voice being recorded.”

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The move sparked backlash from gamers on social media, with many calling the move an "invasion of privacy."

One user noted that parties have been an escape for some players to be able to "possibly open up about their personal issues" with friends.

"But of course now we're being monitored," the user added. "Nice one @PlayStation!"

Meanwhile, another user expressing their discontent with PlayStation's decision used it as an opportunity to blast Big Tech.

"So can we finally acknowledge that tech companies have far too much power and are far too reaching with regards to Privacy?" the user wrote.

In addition, some gamers warned that they will be switching to PlayStation's main competitor, Xbox, if the company goes through with the update.

"If this update is on the PS5, I'm going to Xbox," one user wrote. "It cost less anyway."

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PlayStation immediately put out a statement apologizing for the unexpected advisory and published new details clarifying the feature.

"PlayStation gamers learned about this new function in an unexpected way following the recent PS4 8.00 system update," Catherine Jensen, Sony Interactive Entertainment's vice president for global consumer experience, said in a blog post on Friday. "We didn’t clearly communicate this feature or explain why we were introducing it, and we apologize for that."

Jensen explained that PS5 players who choose to file a harassment report will now be able to include an up to 40 second-long Voice Chat clip, which includes 20 seconds of the main conversation with other players and an additional 10 seconds before and after the conversation selection.

"Only the most recent five minutes of a Voice Chat will be available for a player to use for this reporting function," Jensen added. "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."

While Jensen noted that players will be unable to opt-out of the new feature in order to ensure all users feel safe while playing with others online, she stressed that the company will not be eavesdropping on player's conversations.

"Please note that this feature will not actively monitor or listen in on your conversations – ever – and it’s strictly reserved for reporting online abuse or harassment," Jensen said.

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In addition, the company said in a tweet on Saturday that it is looking into feedback from players on the change and will keep them posted on any updates.

The PS5 is set to launch on Nov. 12 in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea before being unveiled to the rest of the world on Nov. 19. Preorders for the gaming console are available now.

The PS5 will cost $499.99 for its standard edition and $399.99 for its digital edition.

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