Twitch’s new Community Guidelines — A watershed moment for harassment on Twitch

I’ve been on the internet in some form since 1983, with my 300 baud acoustic modem and my dad’s VT100 (yes, an actual terminal) in my living room. I love this place. But like anything you love, it has a dark side.

Twitch announced their new Community Guidelines in early February, and the response was swift from all sides. There were fears that this was going to be body policing female streamers, that this was going to cause unspeakable harm, etc. Most of these concerns were quelled with the town halls that were held.

But for those who wish to harass? This was their time to push. And push they have. Since mid February, there’s been this person.

You might have seen a host, or a follow. Especially if you follow any female Twitch creative streamers. It started with racist names, but quickly turned personal. Against specific streamers using their names. Calling them ugly. Using perverse sexual expressions. You name it, we got it. It’s been over a month, and if anything it’s gotten worse, not better. 150+ accounts worse.

Reports to Twitch have been met with a variety of responses in my personal experience with this, ranging from one extremely helpful staff member, to so many “We’re investigating” statements, and more than a few mentions of the new Auto Mod command. Any tweets to Twitch and Twitch support go unanswered and unaddressed. Users remain able to host immediately after account creation, make offensive usernames, and make broadcasters uncomfortable, all while end users can make countless accounts on the same email address and harass anew as soon as one account is closed.

I’ve been told ‘They’ll lose interest eventually”. But in this age of swatting and doxxing, and when you get a threat live on stream that someone knows where you live, and that they’re going to dox you — this no longer remains in the realm of the casual incident.

Harassment in general has been in the spotlight this year. Movements such as Me Too and Time’s Up have shown that we’re done taking this sort of abuse. Done waiting for “people to get tired of it”. We shouldn’t have to wait.

This is your moment to show us that you’re going to take care of broadcasters, Twitch. You asked us to hold you accountable. So many of us have been trying for a month with no traction — and if there has been any, it’s been silent and unrecognized. I look forward to continuing to hold you accountable as requested. I bleed purple pretty hardcore (and with my Glitch tattoo, literally). I have put my faith in you — don’t let me down.

P.S. The silver lining to all of this (because if you know me, you know I have to find one) is that it’s brought the creative community — especially female casters — closer than ever. Hell hath no fury, they say.

Edited to add: As an example of the last, a change.org petition that was started yesterday surrounding this issue already has over 700 signatures. Check it out, and add your name if you agree.