PlayStation 4 users who have received the latest PS4 update may have noticed a significant change to the console’s party system.

The new PS4 messenger system, which is now integrated into the party system, means that players can send out multiple party invites at once – but there’s a catch.

The process of setting up parties with friends has been made more complicated, because it’s only possible to form parties among private messenger groups. What’s more, players are expressing concern that the terms for the new messenger service states that messages can be sent to Sony for monitoring purposes, raising questions of privacy.

Sony

Why did Sony update the PS4 party system?

The new party update was intended to bring the PS4 in line with the soon to release PlayStation 5, which will rely on voice messages more heavily than the PS4.

The update comes alongside a change to the console’s Parental Controls, and it seems that moderating communications and ensuring privacy is a large part of the changes that Sony has made.

This update has the unintended effect of making the PS4 party system less flexible, as it’s harder to invite outsiders to a closed group.

Sony

Why does Sony listen to private messages on PS4 and PS5?

With the new privacy settings comes a disclaimer attached to the PS4’s new party update: Sony reserves the right to review audio messages that have been sent through the PlayStation system.

According to Sony:

“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.”

Sony will listen in to messages after the PS4 and PS5 party updates in order to moderate – this is likely a way of policing instances of online abuse.

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