An article from Forbes titled “How Paris ISIS Terrorists May Have Used PlayStation 4 To Discuss And Plan Attacks” has led many readers to believe the Playstation 4 was slightly responsible for the Paris Attacks which has killed at least 130 people. Yet this is not exactly correct.
The Forbes article quotes Beliguim’s Interior Minster Jon Jambon who claims: “PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp.”
Whilst the difficulty of censoring and tracking messages and communications in online video games can be true, the quote was misused, suggesting to some readers that the Paris Attacks on the 6th November 2015 was somewhat organised by the Playstation 4.
The original statement was in fact given three days before the attack:
What keeps me up at night is the guy who sits behind his computer searching the messages of IS and of the hate preachers.”
Jon Jambon rightfully highlighted the difficulty of finding alerting messages from the IS and how there is a need for higher precautions. It just happened to be the wrong timing of this statement and the misuse of the quote in Forbe’s article which caused the unneeded speculation.
The article then began to go beyond what Jon Jambon had stated as contributor Paul Tassi wrote:
“An ISIS agent could spell out an attack plan in Super Mario Maker’s coins and share it privately with a friend, or two Call of Duty players could write messages to each other on a wall in a disappearing spray of bullets.”
The truth is that games such as Mario Maker and Call of Duty have the ability for players to write small, hard-to-trace messages; yet to claim that messages encouraging terrorism are written on these video games can be seen as a slight exaggeration.
Kotaku’s Jason Schreier reached out to Sony and received the following statement:
PlayStation 4 allows for communication amongst friends and fellow gamers, in common with all modern connected devices. We take our responsibilities to protect our users extremely seriously, and we urge our users and partners to report activities that may be offensive, suspicious, or illegal. When we identify or are notified of such conduct, we are committed to taking appropriate actions in conjunction with the appropriate authorities.”
The Playstation community is massive, let alone other communities such as the communities of Xbox, Nintendo, Steam, Origin, Uplay… It’s essentially impossible for any discreet messages to be regulated. A 2013 study from Spil Games reports that “44% of the world’s online population are gamers” – which shows that gaming communities should rightfully be investigated for any alarming messages.
Nevertheless, there is currently no correlating evidence to suggest that the Playstation 4 or Super Mario maker was behind organising the attack.