What you need to know
- Microsoft Teams is getting a new feature aimed at moderating chats.
- Supervisors will soon be able to delete others' messages.
Microsoft is adding a new capability to Microsoft Teams that will enable supervisors to clamp down on users' messages if they fall out of line with what is deemed acceptable. Soon, chat supervisors will be able to delete inappropriate or derailing messages so that conversations don't meander or become toxic.
As spotted on the Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), where most Microsoft product updates are found, the latest spread of Teams changes is listed. One of those is feature ID 82939, which is titled "Microsoft Teams: Chat supervisors can delete messages."
Microsoft describes the feature as being inspired by Teams for Education. "This feature, designed with our Teams for Education users in mind, allows chat supervisors to delete inappropriate, off-topic, or other messages in a Teams chat."
While the need for moderation in a classroom setting may very well be the basis for the new feature, it remains to be seen how it will impact Teams as a whole. The feature is due for a September 2021 release, though it's still labeled as "in development," so whether it comes out this month is anyone's guess.
Drop your thoughts in the comments section below if you have any opinions on Microsoft's incoming update to help give supervisors more control over Teams chats. And, speaking of Teams chats, remember that Teams will be powering Windows 11's default Chat app.
Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to email@example.com.
While I understand the idea behind the feature, it's deeply concerning that Big Tech continues to show the world they're very happy to develop censorship tools for everything. Having such a feature on Education makes sense. Children are still being educated and growing. But to have that available for adult users? Within a business environment there are already codes of conduct. They should be enough. But there's clearly an attempt at normalising censorship in the West. And that I'm not OK with.
It's funny you have that opinion, because... (inches finger toward delete comment button) Nah, I'm just kidding. No deletions on WC by my hand. Thanks for the thoughts on the topic. Always nice to hear from someone who supports diversity of thought and expression.
It's not censorship. Never was, never will be. 1) You do NOT have a right to say absolutely anything you want at work.
2) Private organizations have rights to control content on their platforms more or less how they please. Not a single government rule could change that - that would be against what we in the US think of as the spirit of the First Amendment. You can't force a private platform to publish things it doesn't want to. You know, free speech?
3) Managers at workplaces have obligations to prevent things like harassment. That may involve a feature like this. It may also involve firing people for harassment by repeated speech. Using the definition of censorship subscribed to by teenagers on the Internet and Newsmax is ignorant and childish and not helpful. If you want to understand freedom of speech in democracies, you can start by looking up the word 'censorship.'
Andrew, you've commented this a few times on WC. But take your own advice and check out Merriam-Webster. "Censor (transitive verb): to examine in order to suppress (see suppress sense 2) or delete anything considered objectionable. Also: to suppress or delete as objectionable" Nowhere is the word limited to defining the actions of government bodies; it applies to private institutions as well. It applies to anyone or anything that censors someone. Companies are free to provide users with censorship tools or to censor users firsthand. That's their right. Doesn't change the fact it's still (legally permissible, as you already mentioned) censorship; the word's definition won't change just because it seems to make you uncomfortable.
Good point. There is a difference between First Amendment rights vs censorship. This feature is not a violation of the 1A because a private company and only the government is bound by the 1A. However, it could definitely be used for censorship. Many people blend those two concepts. Censorship happens constantly. I censor myself all the time when I talk to my wife.
Precisely this. Thanks, Kros.
I would have no problem with people deleting your comments here.
Sign of the times people call it censoring. This may also be editing for clarity or perhaps someone said something stupid or unprofessional that isn't harassment or really awful, but just I'll advised. Quit acting like your teams conversations are so important people. It's not always a conspiracy or about you
I am SO not in favour of incorporating these kinds of IMHO draconian controls for discourse in a communication platform within a *pre-existing community*. It removes the nuance of competing opinions and allows for mini-dictatorial clampdowns on dissent. It's not just about the feature as a technological possibility, but about what the feature will enable for those with the tendency to delete other's comments as a show-off of power or pretending other views do not exist. The ability to sterilize a discussion to exclude ideas you don't agree with will be used very readily by those that are unable or unwilling to debate in a robust manner, and may discourage open conversations on difficult topics. The ability to see a dissenting or even inappropriate comment in a thread and watch the response and debate to correct or challenge the position is healthy and necessary for us to learn how to communicate and think better. Imagine if Daniel was given to deleting every comment that was antagonistic or troll-ish on this platform. Some of our mainstay commenters wouldn't even be here!
But Daniel already has that ability, so how would this new Teams feature be any different?