Explained | Why did Twitch, the world’s largest game streaming platform, sue its users?

Twitch is the world’s largest video game streaming platform, hosting over an average of 30 million visitors daily.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Livestreaming platform Twitch last week sued two players for conducting hate raids against users from marginalised communities, particularly Black and LGBTQ streamers.

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The move comes weeks after several streamers raised concerns of hate raids on the world’s biggest video game streaming website. Many users also boycotted the platform for a day to show support.

“We’ve seen a lot of conversation about botting, hate raids, and other forms of harassment targeting marginalised creators. You’re asking us to do better, and we know we need to do more to address these issues. That includes an open and ongoing dialogue about creator safety,” Twitch said in a tweet.

What does the lawsuit say?

The Amazon-owned company said the two users, one from Netherlands and the other from Austria, began “coordinated attacks” and hate raids on Twitch’s streamers filled with obscene texts, racial slurs and malicious links.

The users are said to have created bot accounts for the “sole purposes of launching large scale, automated attacks against Twitch’s services and community”, according to the lawsuit. The bots permit them to spew hateful content at a “robotic pace”, often sending dozens of messages per minute that can outpace the targeted streamer’s ability to moderate chat. One of them also created several accounts under various aliases to escape accountability.

Twitch said the hate raids targeting specific users is not only offensive, but also disruptive to the streamers’ streams and authentic engagement from the streamers’ intended views.

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Twitch also said despite banning the two accounts, the hate raids continue as the users have now created a software code to conduct hate raids via automated means.

Ultimately, the fraudulent accounts are said to have breached Twitch’s terms of service by posting racist, homophobic and highly offensive content, alongside harassing and defaming other users. Additionally, they also manipulated their information including names and IP addresses by creating bot accounts.

Why does this matter?

Twitch is the world’s largest video game streaming platform, hosting over an average of 30 million visitors daily. In 2020, viewers watched over 1 trillion minutes of content, according to company data.

Women, people of colour, and the LGBTQ+ community represent a small portion of all Twitch streamers. Many noted these experiences have caused mental health issues, prompting them to stop streaming altogether.

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This is hardly the first time hate raids have taken place on Twitch. In June last year, several female users complained male users harassed them on the platform. One user even took to Twitter to accuse Twitch of minimising and dismissing her sexual harassment complaint by continuing to allow the harasser to attend events.

Twitch said it will continue to implement stricter identity control with accounts, machine learning algorithms to detect bot accounts that are used to engage in harmful chat and augmenting the ban word list. The company also added it worked with impacted streamers to educate them on moderation toolkits for their chats and responded to streamers’ and users’ comments and concerns.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 10:25:15 PM |

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