Cyber Bullies: Xbox

Keyboard Klansmen?

"I love playing video games as much as I like eating food. I've been a loyal customer to Xbox Live and Xbox 360. Now it's gotten worse with the racial slurs, the name-calling and the bullying online," Terry complains.

Terry shares some taunts he receives from other gamers. "I've been called ‘monkey,' or ‘Are your hands greasy from eating all that chicken?' ‘I'm going to put a lynch on your door,'" he says.

The father of three fears that the virtual threats will become reality. "I've had to stop my children from playing online, my 10-year-old daughter, my 13-year-old son, and even my 5-year-old son. He asks me, ‘Daddy, why can't I play online with you? I want to play that,' and I say, ‘No.' He goes, ‘Why? Are they going to call me names?'" Terry reveals. "I think that's sad for a 5-year-old to know that.

"I called Xbox Live. I gave them all the information they needed to know, and they told me before they can do anything, take any kind of action, there has to be 10 complaints filed against [the other player]," he continues, incensed. "That's like you coming to my house, robbing me, and I call the police. Are they going to tell me, ‘Well, if that guy comes back to your house 10 times, we'll come out and do something about it'? I think that's disgusting. I think Mr. [Bill] Gates needs to change that rule, and I think it needs to be changed immediately."

"You're online playing, and you're playing somebody else somewhere in the country or the world?" Dr. Phil asks Terry. "You don't know where?"

"Right. It could be next door, it could be around the corner, it could be across the world," he answers.

Dr. Phil addresses Terry's wife, Nydia. "You worry this could jump from the virtual world to the real world because they're talking about lynching, and attacking, and your children," he surmises.

"I just feel like on the Internet, in this situation, anything is possible," she replies. "I don't know who these people are. They claim to be the KKK, and I have a really big problem with that. They're calling my children monkeys, that they're going to hang them, they're going to kill them, they're going to kill me. It's crazy, and it's out of control. Nobody is trying to do anything about this. My husband has contacted Microsoft for many years, and I don't understand why the FBI is not all over this."

Dr. Phil turns to Larry. "Does this cross the line?"

"If somebody online is making threats to engage in some sort of violence toward this person or part of his family, that is absolutely a federal crime. The FBI should be all over it, and I'm surprised that they're not," Larry declares.

Terry agrees. "If I call Microsoft and say, ‘Hey, this guy just texted me. I have the proof. You need to check the text,' that should be [taken
care of] immediately," he says. "I shouldn't have to wait 10 times, and get 10 complaints from people, for that guy to be banned."

Dr. Phil turns to Sandy, the former councilwoman. "Is this offensive to you?" he asks.

"Yeah. It's directed at him, and I think that's offensive," she replies.

"I don't see how this is a civil rights issue. How is this a civil rights issue?" Dr. Phil asks Larry.

"We don't have a civil right, in this country, not to be offended. We don't have a civil right to be able to play video games," Larry explains. "We do have the absolute right to live in safety and free of actual threats of violence, and that's where some of these threats that were referenced crossed the line and can actually become federal crimes."

Dr. Phil points out that some gamers have threatened to find out where Terry lives. "That's a real possibility, right?" he asks.

"My fear is them targeting my kids," Terry replies. "I think my rights are violated, especially if you're writing KKK, and you're actually taking the time to do all this stuff and spelling out stuff. It's horrible."

"People have a sense of anonymity. They're what I call keyboard bullies," Dr. Phil explains. "They don't have to face anybody. They don't have to deal with it. You see it in road rage. People are in the anonymity of their car, and they go crazy. They would never do it face to face, but on the Internet, they do it."

Dr. Phil contacted Microsoft regarding Terry's situation. "They say that there is a zero-tolerance policy on Xbox Live, and if the Microsoft team gets enough info to investigate, they can make sure to suspend or ban the offending gamers," he reports.

Microsoft was invited to be on the Dr. Phil show, but they declined. However, Dr. Phil has good news for Terry. "We explained to them that you have filed multiple complaints. You have the numbers; you have the tagline of the people who are doing this sort of thing, so Microsoft has said they are going to set up with [you] one of their security team members, and they are going to discuss this investigation regarding your complaints and try to get the ball rolling," he assures Terry. "So we have gotten them, at least, to assign an investigator specific to you, so they can sit down and start this ball rolling."