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Nintendo disables Swapnote/Letter Box over "offensive material"

Nintendo disables Swapnote/Letter Box over "offensive material"

Fri 01 Nov 2013 9:20am GMT / 5:20am EDT / 2:20am PDT
Publishing

Inappropriate pictures being sent via service says publisher

Nintendo has suspended its Swapnote service, known as Letter Box in European countries, after reports that it was being used to distribute "offensive material" to minors.

Although the messaging service only allows users to send content to people on their Friends list, many 3DS owners post their Friend Codes in public forums or on social networks to gain more friends. Nintendo specifically advises against this, but says many children don't heed its warnings.

"Nintendo has learned that some consumers, including minors, have been exchanging their friend codes on Internet bulletin boards and then using Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in other regions) to exchange offensive material," a statement explaining the decision reads. "Nintendo has been investigating ways of preventing this and determined it is best to stop the SpotPass feature of Swapnote because it allows direct exchange of photos and was actively misused.

"Nintendo always wants to provide a positive experience for all consumers and limit the risk of any inappropriate activity or misuse of a service. We feel it is important on this occasion to take this action."

It's unknown whether the service will be reinstated or not.

9 Comments

Andrew Watson
Programmer

79 135 1.7
What were they honestly expecting?

It doesn't help when there are also some popular games out there that give you more benefits the more friends you have (cough cough pokemon X & Y's friend safari)

Posted:5 months ago

#1

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,051 0.9
Quite drastic I think.

With MiiVerse coming to the 3DS sometime soon (one can hope), that will take SwapNotes' place and pictorial offenders can be dealt with individually rather than punishing the whole lot.

Posted:5 months ago

#2

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

929 150 0.2
Bit of an overkill, as long as there's a way for people to communicate, there are some individuals who will just spread something offensive just because they can do so. It doesn't matter if it's the 3DS or not, it can happen on your phone or computer, even just down to just a piece of paper. If these same people started drawing and writing offensive material on paper and just distributed it in public, should paper get banned?

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Chris Nash
Compliance Technician

44 13 0.3
Seems silly that people would go to all the trouble of swapping friend codes and then using their 3DS to send "offensive material" to each other, when they could send it far more easily via email or any other method using their computer instead. Unless they're taking advantage of the 3DS's stereoscopic cameras to create the "offensive material"?

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Steven Hodgson
Programmer

77 111 1.4
It doesn't help when there are also some popular games out there that give you more benefits the more friends you have (cough cough pokemon X & Y's friend safari)
Before pokemon x and y, i had 6 friends on my list. after completing x and y, i had the full 100 because of friend safari.

Disabling isn't going to fix the problem, another game will eventually come along, its just removing functionality. If they had a proper account system in place they could just have report abuse and then ban them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Steven Hodgson on 1st November 2013 4:00pm

Posted:5 months ago

#5

Richard Westmoreland
Game Desginer

140 90 0.6
Give them the tools and they will draw penises.

Posted:5 months ago

#6

Stu Johnson
Technical Lead

9 26 2.9
I have a hazy memory of a decree from Nintendo requiring us to exclude all vowels from level achievement codes on the SNES. Apparently an irrate parent threatened to sue after they caught their little precious using the code entry screen to type rude words.

Of course this was all due to the corrupting influence of computer games....

Posted:5 months ago

#7

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

716 498 0.7
@Jim Webb
Quite drastic I think.

With MiiVerse coming to the 3DS sometime soon (one can hope), that will take SwapNotes' place and pictorial offenders can be dealt with individually rather than punishing the whole lot.
It is, indeed. We were discussing this very same topic during the coffee break in the morning and I suggested your exact same statement as a better and less "pharaonic" alternative. Problem is that (as far as I know) Nintendo has no way of tracking the origin of those images. Second is that gathering such data would be illegal unless every single user would have accepted an EULA that includes that scenario, something that you can't enforce on a under-aged kid (Illegal, once again)

I think this drastic measure was, although unfortunate, the only one they had at hand.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 8th November 2013 4:40pm

Posted:5 months ago

#8

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