An image of MW3 operators in Zombies mode
Image via Activision

MW3 player sparks AI moderation debate after 3-day ban over private voice chat 

Does this cross the line?

The next time you log in on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Warzone and use game chat, keep in mind that Activision is listening in on conversations to detect hate speech—and it will ban you for it.

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In August 2023, Activision announced that CoD would begin using an AI-based detection system called ToxMod to listen in on in-game voice chat. And it appears to be paying dividends, according to some players who’ve been punished, like one who posted on Reddit about they and their friend being banned for three days, albeit while in a private in-game party chat.

MW3 Code of Conduct
MW3’s Code of Conduct does not specify voice chat channels. Screenshot by Dot Esports

“I’m not sure what either of us said throughout the night, but my problem with this is mainly that we were in a private party with just the three of us,” one player said in an April 12 Reddit post. “I can maybe understand moderating public lobby chat to “create a safe environment” or whatever, but when you start moderating and banning people over speech in their private parties, you’re going too far.”

The topic brings up an interesting debate. How far should the voice chat monitoring go? Odds are, if the players were using Discord or another voice chat like PlayStation or Xbox party chat, nothing would have happened.

Back in January, Activision announced that “more than two million accounts have seen in-game enforcement for disruptive voice chat” since the AI moderator went live with MW3, but did not specify that it included private parties in the game.

I personally choose to avoid CoD voice chat altogether. I do not need or want to hear slurs, loud music, bong rips, or crying babies while attempting to rank up weapons on Shipment, but another MW3 enjoyer provided some interesting feedback.

“It definitely has contextual power,” they said. “I swear like a sailor. I have not once had any chat notifications. Someone I play with occasionally if our mutual friend is on is very specific with his slurs. And he’s chat banned constantly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they heavily weigh racist and sex based slurs compared to generic swear words. But I also believe they have at the very least basic comprehension of phrases.”

If this is to be believed, then it appears that the original Reddit poster basically may have self-reported them and their friend on Reddit for using language deemed as “hate speech,” “bullying,” or “harassment.” The question remains, though: Should private parties be monitored?

In the end, it seems that if you would like to use all kinds of slurs without facing potential punishment, you should do so outside of CoD’s game chat, lest you face the wrath of the ban hammer.

It’s definitely a controversial method of moderation, but CoD’s definition of “in-game voice chat” seems to really mean all forms of in-game voice chat, whether the party is private or not. And every player must agree to CoD’s Code of Conduct before playing online, so it would seem Activision is within its rights to ban.


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Author
Scott Duwe
Staff Writer & Call of Duty lead. Professional writer for over 10 years. Lover of all things Marvel, Destiny 2, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and more. Previous bylines include PC Gamer, Red Bull Esports, Fanbyte, and Esports Nation. DogDad to Yogi the Corgi, sports fan (NY Yankees, NY Jets, NY Rangers, NY Knicks), Paramore fanatic, cardio enthusiast.