Twitch Updates Community Guidelines On Sexual Content & Harassment

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Twitch will update its Community Guidelines, focusing on anti-harassment policies and eliminating sexual content, the company announced in a comprehensive blog post on Thursday. The statement details new rules that streamers on the platform must follow going forward. “Our goal is to increase clarity, strength, and consistency across our entire moderation framework,” the post says.

The new Community Guidelines won’t go into effect until Feb. 19 at noon EST, which will give streamers some time to adjust to the changes. All VODs and clips that violate these new guidelines must be taken down during the transition period. “We’ll be reaching out to some streamers whose current and past content may violate these new guidelines,” the blog post says. However, what's deemed harassment or overtly sexual conduct is still up to Twitch’s discretion. A spokesperson for the site explains: “we have a comprehensive framework that our Admins use to make decisions.”

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Part of Twitchcon 2017's opening ceremony presentation Photo: Twitch

To achieve these hefty goals, Twitch will enforce a strict anti-harassment policy, both on and off their platform. Conduct deemed “hateful” will resort in an indefinite ban as “hate simply has no place in the Twitch community,” the post says. Additionally, hateful rhetoric and brigading done on other platforms can also result in a ban. For instance, if a Twitch streamer used Twitter or reddit in order to get their fans to dox or insult another streamer, Twitch may disable the account for violation of community guidelines. Streamers have started beef with each other for “drama” since the site’s inception, but there comes a moment when one steps too far over the line, though where that line is still remains up to Twitch.

The streaming platform also vows to crack down on “sexual content,” where, “contextual elements such as stream title, camera angles, emotes, panels, attire, overlays and chat moderation” will be examined. If admins deem the content is pornagraphic or lewd in nature, then the channel will be shut down.

According to Twitch’s spokesperson, these changes have been in the works for over a year and aren’t a response to any single ban or internet outrage. Streamers have long asked for an update to Twitch’s Terms Of Service, one with stricter guidelines as to what is allowed on the platform. Case in point, streamers like Mitch Jones and Brittany Venti have balanced on a thin tightrope between what is and isn’t appropriate for the site’s IRL section, only to be banned indefinitely from the platform after multiple strikes. With this change, Twitch hopes to eliminate some confusion from streamers.Over the next few months, Twitch will be “revisiting enforcement policies for both partners and non-partners, (their) appeals process, IRL guidelines, and preventing user-to- user harassment,” the post says.

It has proven to be a challenge to keep up with Twitch’s growing platform. In Twitch’s 2017 Year Retrospective (in comic book form), the site boasts 27,000 partnered streamers, 150,000 affiliates and 15 million daily active users. That’s a streaming figure that’s impossible to properly moderate with just humans, which is why Twitch is investing even more resources into making their programmatic auto mod tool more useful.

Although these guidelines are a solid step in the right direction for Twitch, there’s more work that needs to be done. Twitch still holds all the power and streamers need solid guidelines that explain what they are allowed to do. Though this update offers two in-depth articles to keep everyone informed about the rules, there’s still a small grey area in what Twitch deems as proper content. Making sure that standardized rules are followed by every streamer is a must, the platform can’t give special treatment to it’s most popular talking heads.

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