PlayStation 5 will let you upload a recording of your voice chat audio to Sony for moderation - giving you an easy way to report abuse and toxic behaviour.
The feature emerged after a warning message was quietly added to PlayStation 4 via yesterday's software update. (PS5 and PS4 players can share parties, so anyone speaking via party chat on PS4 could be recorded by someone in their party on PS5.)
Here is the message PS4 owners began seeing last night:
So apparently, in case y'all didn't know this beforehand. But apparently the newest Sony update to the PS4 and will continue onto 5 will be recording your voice while in party chat. pic.twitter.com/T0VIbwIpZe— Ittarra Oda: Returned for now. Missed you all ❤️ (@IttarraOda) October 14, 2020
Initially, there was some confusion around Sony's warning. Some users read it to mean Sony itself would start snooping in on party chats, which lead to the topic trending on Twitter, a number of memes, and then this official PlayStation response:
"Users are seeing a notification about Party Safety and that voice chats in parties may be recorded," Sony stated via the PlayStation blog. "Voice chat recording for moderation is a feature that will be available on PS5 when it launches, and will enable users to record their voice chats on PS5 and submit them for moderation review.
"The pop up you're seeing on PS4 right now is to let you know that when you participate in a chat with a PS5 user (post-launch), they may submit those recordings from their PS5 console to SIE."
So no, Sony isn't tapping you and your pals' private conversations, as PlayStation UK further clarified:
Hello! The notification advises you that other users may be recording your voice conversation. We do no record party chats. ^PS— Ask PlayStation UK (@AskPS_UK) October 14, 2020
As a tool for trying to moderate the Wild West of console voice chat, it'll be interesting to see how effective this is. Perhaps just the fact it exists will be enough to act as a deterrent for some?
Sony has yet to say exactly how it will respond to reports - and what punishments it might inflict on you if you decide to erroneously grass up friends as a joke, even if they did get your party wiped.