Twitch is making some changes to its community guidelines. This is a long overdue response to accusations that Twitch is becoming an increasingly toxic community, with newcomers ruining the vibe, and the old guard reacting negatively to this.
For the uninitiated, Twitch lets people stream online. The vast majority of Twitch streamers film themselves playing video games, but the IRL section has opened Twitch up to non-gaming content. And that, along with streaming growing in popularity, has caused problems.
Sexual Content and Hateful Conduct
Twitch has focused on two main areas of concern: sexual content and hateful conduct. The new guidelines will go into effect on February 19, 2018, although Twitch has stated it will be reaching out to people breaking the rules during the transitional period.
The guidelines on sexual content have been updated to deal with the female Twitch streamers who are using sex to gain viewers. Some dress in very little clothing, and others have literally offered to “squat for subs.” None of which is particularly family friendly.
The new rules mean Twitch will be “evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive,” with things like camera angles, attire, and overlays all taken into consideration. As a form of dress code, Twitch wants attire to be “appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant.”
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
Twitch is also tackling a rise in harassment and hateful conduct. Some of this has been targeted at the streamers described above, but other Twitch streamers are also being harassed. And sometimes this spills over onto platforms other than Twitch itself.
From now on hateful conduct could result in “an immediate indefinite suspension.” As well as words and actions, context and intent will now be taken into consideration. As will “hateful or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch.”
A Good Start, But Not the End
Twitch has stated that this is “just the first of many improvements coming to the policies, moderation processes, and safety features on Twitch.” So Twitch streamers and viewers can expect more guidelines, and more clarification on the current ones, to be issued in the future.
These new guidelines seems sensible. Twitch needed to do something to tackle the rise of streamers using gimmicks to gain subscribers. But it also needed to make it clear that harassing people is never acceptable. This is a good start, but it’s clearly not the end.
Do you regularly stream on Twitch? What do you think of Twitch’s new guidelines for streamers and viewers? Have you noticed hateful conduct increasing of late? What do you think of streamers who dress provocatively? Please let us know in the comments below!