The major online services and platforms are slowly but surely starting to clamp down harder on hate and harassment. But typically these services only consider abuse that has occurred on their platform, not elsewhere. Twitch is changing that stance this week and in future will look at all evidence of online abuse when considering account suspensions.
In a post on the Twitch blog, the service explains how last year it loosened restrictions on non-gaming streams, but over the months that followed Twitch users made it clear, “certain sections of our Community Guidelines were not clear enough.” The first update to those guidelines to improve clarity just happened, and it focuses on anti-harassment and sexual content policies.
We’re releasing the first in a series of updates to our moderation and enforcement policies, starting with our Community Guidelines. Future updates will focus on consistent enforcement policies, appeals process, IRL-specific guidelines, and more. Details: https://t.co/BAq488q0Jm pic.twitter.com/XdovwOXlHt
— Twitch (@Twitch) February 8, 2018
The biggest change for anti-harassment policy is in the evidence Twitch considers when assessing a user accused of being hateful. Any instance of hate on Twitch will be met with an “immediate indefinite suspension.” However, Twitch users need to be aware that their actions away from the streaming service are now under scrutiny. Twitch will “consider verifiable hateful or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch when making moderation decisions for actions that occur on Twitch.”
In other words, if you are flagged for hate or harassing behavior on Twitch, the moderation team may also look for evidence on other platforms of you demonstrating similar behavior. “If you use other services to direct hate or harassment towards someone on Twitch, we will consider it a violation of Twitch’s policies.”
For sexual content, the moderation framework used by Twitch is being updated. Evaluating sexual content will now take into consideration, “stream title, camera angles, emotes, panels, attire, overlays, and chat moderation.” It has also been made clear that attire and profile/channel imagery needs to “be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant.”
The new rules will come into affect on Monday, Feb. 19 at 9am PT. Until then the existing guidelines remain in place. Regular Twitch streamers are encouraged to review the new guidelines now to ensure they don’t fall foul of them come Feb. 19.