Microsoft is working on a new feature for collaboration platform Teams that are designed to help keep conversations on track, but not everyone will approve.

As per a new entry in the company’s product roadmap, Teams will soon allow administrators to remove “inappropriate” or tangential content in messaging channels. Presumably, this includes swearing words, lewdness, aggressive language and the like.

The feature is supposedly built with Teams for Education users in mind but will be made available across all iterations of the software later this month.

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Microsoft Teams update

In an online learning context, the value of the new Teams feature is obvious; teachers tasked with keeping rowdy students in line remotely will welcome all the help they can get. The chat management facility will work hand-in-hand with similar in-meeting tools, which allow hosts to disable video feeds, and mute or evict disruptive attendees.

However, outside of e-learning scenarios, the feature is bound to rub a few users up the wrong way. If the Basecamp controversy is anything to go by, some won’t take kindly to a facility that allows administrators to censor chat content and decide what qualifies as appropriate or not.

The feature is also likely to create opportunities for miscommunication. The messaging channel format is designed to create a permanent log of conversations around a particular topic. But the ability to delete messages will create holes in this history that could eliminate important context.

Presumably, Microsoft will opt for a system whereby deleted messages are replaced with an explanatory note, though the company has offered no specifics as yet. And admittedly, Slack already employs a similar system, whereby administrators decide who has the power to delete chat messages.

The risk, then, is determined by the way in which each individual business decides to deploy these new administrator privileges.

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