Microsoft Says It's Fixed Xbox Bug That Exposes People's Real Names [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Says Its Fixed Xbox Bug That Exposes Peoples Real Names [UPDATE]em/em

Xbox users have started to notice an unwelcome surprise: Their first and last names are suddenly visible to other people without their permission, a problem that Microsoft says it is fixing.

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Redditor Nadia C. says she received a message this morning alerting her that, instead of her Xbox nickname made of emoji symbols, her real name was visible. When she fired up her Xbox, she noticed that tons of others’ names were visible, too: streamers, recent players, friends. “It’s a gaming platform, not Facebook,” she wrote. “I have no interest in strangers possibly knowing my whereabouts or whatever else they can get from knowing my real name.”

Image courtesy of Nadia C
Image courtesy of Nadia C
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After Nadia posted her thread, dozens chimed in to say it happened to them, too. Many went into their Xbox account settings to evaluate their privacy. Many were concerned that angry strangers they’d played Call of Duty with would be able to track them down. Others said that their real names were still blocked. (For me, the “You can share your real name with friends of friends” appears to have been changed to was on “allow,” although I do not recall making that choice.)

“We’re actively working to address an issue some users may be experiencing with their profile,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Kotaku via e-mail when asked about this issue.

In an e-mail to Kotaku, Nadia added, “I started freaking out to be honest, I felt a little bit of anxiety and I started sweating... why? I’ve had a few experiences with people before, trolls, stalkers, or just teenagers bored out of their mind.”

Update—1:00 p.m., 3/2/17: Microsoft says they’ve fixed the bug.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

The anonymity the Internet provides is at once one of its greatest strengths (in that it allows people to express ideas that may be politically unpopular in their area, or to organize social movements without fear of direct/immediate reprisal), and also one of its greatest weaknesses (in that it enables trolls/SWATting/etc).

Still, when weighing the positives against the negatives, I think I’d prefer to keep the anonymity—particularly in a gaming space, where most folks are just trying to have fun, unwind, and maybe talk a little bit of trash (which is different from shit-talk and deliberate aggression, in my mind).

Here’s hoping MS gets this fixed quickly; any exposure of customers’ personal data is too much exposure—but hopefully this won’t last long.