Another 24 hours have passed for Twitch – the latest in what is designed to be a long agonizing year for the company (and also everyone on Earth). Yesterday afternoon, Twitch held a living town hall in order to shed light on recent policy changes and features around DMCAs, sexual harassment, ads, and other quick button issues. However, after that, many streamers focused on a small part of the two-hour presentation: Twitch’s decision to ban words like “simp,” “incel,” and “virgin” – at least when used in derogatory contexts. .
Towards the end of the mayor’s office, the COO of Twitch, Sara Clemens, went deeper the new Twitch rules will take effect next month. Clemens explained that one of the new rules prohibits “derogatory statements about sexual practices perceived by another person”, which includes “negative targeting of another person with sexually concentrated terms”.
“The use of terms such as ‘simple’, ‘incel’ or ‘virgin’ as an insult to refer negatively to another person’s sexual activity is not allowed in this new policy,” Clemens said. In addition to changing policy, we also proactively deny emotions that include the term “simple.” We eliminate them when they are reported and we will continue to do so once the policy changes. “
In an email to Kotaku, Twitch clarified that “simp”, “incel” and “virgin” are not generally prohibited and will only be subject to sanctions when “they relate negatively to another person’s sexual practices”.
“Using these terms on their own would not lead to an application, but we would take action if they were used repeatedly in a harassing manner,” said a Twitch representative. “We deny emotions related to these terms and eliminate them when they are reported to us. We have a stricter policy regarding emotions in general, as they can be used in Twitch, so we can take more proactive steps to minimize the potential for harm. “
Earlier this year, Kotaku discovered that Twitch had removed the “simple” emoticons since February, so this is not completely new. But it is a codification of an approach that has left many streamers amazed because of those who most often face harassment (sexual or otherwise) on the platform.
“However, people can still go into my chat and call me service with little or no actioooon,” Twitch’s partner, PleasantlyTwstd, said on Twitter.
“Where was all this outrage when black and female streamers complained of being harassed on Twitch?” said streamer and organizer DaPurpleSharpie. “Where, then, was Twitch’s position on the need to stop harassment?”
“Twitch talks a lot about inclusion, but can’t ban the word N in chat globally,” said partner and musician Twitch Detune. “Instead, we have to type it ourselves to change it. You want to know how painful is to type the racial weakness that you are appointed and we have to think of each variant so that it can be banned automatically? “
“The use of the words ‘simp’, ‘virgin’ and ‘incel’ are now prohibited offenses for Twitch.” said Twitch partner SeriouslyClara. “I’m glad the super-marginalized male demographic is finally safe.”
Twitch generally presents itself as a company that develops new tools and features so that streamers can maintain their own communities as they see fit, but the mayor’s office has painted a less encouraging picture of when and how they choose. to intervene. In the case of words like “simple,” Twitch chose to make a decision for everyone – and a mystical one at that. There has not been a widespread demand for the repression of terms which, when used negatively, refer largely to the fact that people who harass are not harassed. Nobody really asked for that. Out of nowhere, Twitch issued a decree despite streamer protests.
However, serpentines have has been asking for labels centered around specific identities – for blacks and trans-streamers, among others – for years. The idea is that these tags, like the Twitch “communities” feature that the tags replaced in 2018, would allow streamers to find others so that they and viewers can discover new streamers that are part of these groups. This would create stronger communities not only in single streams, but in different broadcast channels. On a hostile internet, these types of simple community building tools are essential for marginalized groups. And yet, during City Hall, Twitch made another decision for streamers, despite what they asked for. Near the beginning of the stream, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear acknowledged the streamer’s years of campaigning for a trans label, but not to tell them one is on the way.
“While looking to launch new identity tags, such as the trans tag, in particular, we encountered two problems: The first issue I found is that the use of tags can often lead to increased harassment for streamers, in especially in vulnerable identity groups ”. he said. “We wanted to make sure we tried to solve this so that people wouldn’t accidentally choose this type of harassment.”
The other problem, Shear noted, is that he doesn’t want Twitch staff to be “identity arbiters.” “If we choose what labels are worth having a label, there will always be someone who feels left out of it,” he said.
Shear went on to say that a kind of labeling system that “allows self-identity” is coming in 2021, but stopped explaining what form it will take. Meanwhile, the streamers are upset that here Twitch has chosen to draw the line.
“Did they wave their hands not to implement a trans label because … they don’t want to incite more hate / harassment towards trans people on the platform?” said partner Twitch and vocal actor Negaoryx. “They already That’s it, Twitch. Moderate your platform! Apply [terms of service] and deal with the harassers! “
“I get some targeted harassment because I’m bi through the LGBT + label, but I get 100 times more LGBT + people as viewers who identify with me,” said partner Twitch Novaleesi. “It’s worth it. The whole talk about ‘the risk of weighing the reward’ is stupid. Give trans people the option to have a trans label.”
“Labels are written!” Twitch partner and founder of I Need Diverse Games Ask “Cypheroftyr,” DePass said. “Twitch cannot be the referee of a registration tag. Face harassment instead of giving us identity tags. Or bring communities back! “
Twitch has repeatedly said that mitigating harassment is a priority and is trying more than most in favor of the company. Its new rules target the harassers in an appropriately harsh way, at least on paper (we’ll see how Run goes when January runs), and during the mayor’s office, the company mentioned that it continues to develop its reliable and safe team. However, Twitch has a long habit of losing less and less of the sign in ways that turn out to be angry. It frequently does this by providing tape aids for surface wounds, such as the word “simple,” while telling those seeking more systemic solutions that what they simply want is not possible or that it is too high risk. This creates an image of a company that thinks it knows better than anyone else, even if the old eon problems continue to ignite. Streamers are naturally frustrated by this.
In some ways, Twitch knows better than its users; it regularly experiments with new features and collects data on an astonishingly massive scale. But data is never the whole story, and until Twitch learns how to truly listen to his community and communicate his findings without sounding contemptuous or moving myopic, we will continue to get back to the same place, just as we have. countless times in the past. Maybe Twitch is just a punishment.