Twitch is taking extra steps to clean up their community and combat harassment on the platform. A revised set of community guidelines focuses on harsher penalties and cracking down on sexual content with measures including permanent bans and off-site harassment moderation.
In a blog post today, Twitch revealed changes to their community guidelines that seek to improve safety and crack down on toxic behaviour. As an effort to battle harassment, two new changes have been implemented that mark a stronger stance towards misbehavior and sexual content.
A major ideological battleground for the Twitch community centres upon women streamers and their attire. Women wearing revealing clothes often face disproportionate levels of harassment and accusations that they are "titty streamers" using their bodies to garner views and donation.
Twitch's previous guidelines prohibited "nudity and conduct involving overtly sexual behaviour and/or attire." Twitch's new policy warns that streamers cannot wear "attire intended to be sexually suggestive." Among the clothing specified are "undergarments, intimate apparel, or exposing/focusing on male or female genitals, buttocks, or nipples".
Twitch's blog post expands on those rules by offering a loose dress code.
"Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant. As a reminder, we will not tolerate using this policy as a basis to harass streamers on or off Twitch, regardless of whether you think they're breaking this rule," the blog post said.
In a dark, blue-lit room last December, a man known as MetaphorSX was live-streaming World of Warcraft on Twitch and, during a break, decided to rate female Twitch streamers along with his viewers.
In addition to these measures, Twitch lists emotes, stream titles, and camera angles as "contextual elements" they will be monitoring.
"We'll be looking at contextual elements such as the stream title, camera angles, emotes, panels, attire, overlays, and chat moderation. Offering access to prohibited sexual content such as 'lewds' on Twitch remains prohibited." Some Twitch streamers maintain alternate revenue streams tied to activities such as camera performances
"It means that if someone gets reported for breaking our community guidelines based on sexual content, we will take a holistic look at the channel," a representative of Twitch told Kotaku via email.
In addition to these measures, the blog outlines a new policy towards harassment.
"First, conduct we deem to be hateful will result in an immediate indefinite suspension," the blog post said. "Hate simply has no place in the Twitch community."
Twitch does take action against infractions but even high profile cases of harassment and inciting behaviour have resulted in mere suspensions. Last year, one streamer went on an animated rant against women on the platform that only resulted in a five day suspension. Poor behaviour on Twitch streams can now lead to permanent bans but the company also revealed they were taking other platforms into consideration when reviewing harassment reports.
"We will not be monitoring other platforms," a representative of Twitch told Kotaku. "It means that when filing a report, users can provide documentation that illustrates harassment from any source, but we will only factor in instances if we can personally verify them."
"Additionally, we will now consider verifiable hateful or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch when making moderation decisions for actions that occur on Twitch," the blog post said. "If you use other services to direct hate or harassment towards someone on Twitch, we will consider it a violation of Twitch's policies."
Twitch's new policies go into effect on Monday, February 19th US time. Streamers must remove all clips and videos that break policy or risk potential action against their accounts.
"Guiding the community is an enormous responsibility and one we take to heart," the blog post said. "Today's updates are a major step forward and are just the beginning of our work."