1.31.2020 11:25 AM

Gaming

Facebook is giving game streamers more control over chat rules

Optional rules like “Don’t Criticize” are meant to help set the tone of conversation.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Facebook wants to give gamers on its platform more tools to set the tone of conversation in their livestream chats. So the company has created a new set of eight optional rules that players can enable before their streams go live.

Do read the comments? — Facebook offered an example for the rule, “Be accepting.” When enabled, a comment such as, “Girls can’t play games” might be reasonably removed by a moderator for violating the rule. The eight optional rules are supposed to give streamers a framework for steering chat conversation in the right direction. They were created in collaboration with the Fair Play Alliance, a coalition of game companies encouraging healthy communities in online gaming.

“People form communities over a shared love of gaming,” the company wrote in a blog post, “but we know some groups of people, like women, can be targets of negative, hurtful stereotypes — so, rules like ‘Be Accepting’ and ‘Respect Boundaries’ can help maintain a positive environment for everyone.”

When viewers open a stream, they’ll be shown a list of all the optional rules that the streamer has set, if any. If they post a comment in violation of one of the rules and a moderator removes it, the moderator will be able to inform the viewer of the specific rule they violated.

These are still comments we’re talking about — Facebook says that these new rules are set atop the company’s existing Community Guidelines, meaning things like hate speech and threats of violence are still against the rules as always. Those will continue to be automatically removed using Facebook’s AI tools. But even though a comment doesn’t necessarily violate Facebook’s guidelines, it could still be hurtful to certain groups. Today’s update is meant to strike a balance where Facebook is censoring less content automatically, instead giving streamers some fine control over less egregious (but still unwanted) comments.

Facebook says it will expand and modify the optional rules based on the feedback it receives.

Facebook Gaming has been growing at a brisk pace but is still quite a bit smaller than competitors Twitch and YouTube Gaming.