Fortnite Adds Voice Reporting To Combat Toxic Gaming Trolls, How It Works
Epic Games is empowering gamers with a new tool in an ongoing effort to mitigate bullying, harassment, discrimination, and generally toxic behavior. Effectively immediately, Fortnite players can submit audio recordings to report gamers who cross the line and run afoul of Epic's community rules. This is in addition to existing mechanisms that include being able to block, mute, and report players.
When enabled, the voice reporting feature captures the last five minutes of voice chat. This is on a rolling basis, so only the last five minutes of audio can be reported—all voice chat previous to that is automatically deleted, Epic explains.
What about privacy? Epic says audio chats are "securely captured" on the player's local device, such as a game console or PC, and not its servers. Additionally, Epic claims it's impossible for the developer to access voice chats unless the feature is turned and a user submits a report for review. If there is a report, Epic will retain the recording for two weeks, or sometimes longer, depending on the situation.
"Audio clips submitted to Epic for review will be auto-deleted after fourteen days or the duration of a sanction, whichever is longer. In the event of an appeal, retention may be extended for up to fourteen days so the sanction decision can be reviewed. If Epic needs to retain an audio clip to comply with legal obligations, it will be retained for as long as legally required," Epic says.
The voice reporting feature is always on for players who are under 18 years old. If a player under 18 years old doesn't want their voice chats recorded, Epics says they can either mute themself or disable voice chat entirely. And of course parents have the option of managing voice chat permissions using Epic's parental controls.
Players who are 18 years old and over can enable the feature by to navigating to Audio > Voice Reporting in Fortnite's settings menu (as shown above), and then select either Always On or Off When Possible. The former is self-explanatory, while the latter option disables recording in parties formed among friends who are all using the same setting. However, if one or more party members have it set to Always On, then voice chats will be recorded.
"The 'Off When Possible' option applies to Party Channels only. Voice reporting will always be on in all Game Channels, which are channels that connect players on the same team but in different parties," Epic says.
Reports submitted are done so anonymously—players can't see who reported them, though they may be able to figure it out based on their recent behavior. Also, any player who is reported will not know about it unless Epic finds there's cause to take action. It's also worth noting that the voice reporting feature only applies to Fortnite's in-game voice chats and not conversations on Discord and other services.
For anyone interested, Epic posted a separate blog on the feature that outlines the technical aspects of how it built voice reporting. It gets into geeky details like public key cryptography, digital signatures, backend services to upload audio buffers, and so forth.