Yesterday, Twitch announced a series of new, more stringent policies around sexual content, harassment and community behaviour. Now streamers who've built their brands on pushing boundaries are worried that their channels might be on the chopping block.
During a stream yesterday, popular streamer Sebastian "Forsen" Fors, whose community is notoriously rowdy and has had a hand in popularising a number of controversial memes such as racist gag Ugandan Knuckles, voiced concern that a specific portion of the new guidelines - namely, the part that holds streamers accountable for hateful conduct from their communities - could get him banned. Forsen, who has 756,784 followers on Twitch, is by no means a small-timer, and his audience spans multiple platforms such as Reddit and Discord. They have been known to do things such as raid other streams (up to and including spamming the n-word in the chat of 2017's Awesome Games Done Quick charity marathon) and stream snipe Forsen relentlessly. Over the years, Forsen has gained a reputation for being permissive of a lot of this, though he's tried to shut down more severe incidents such as the AGDQ thing.
"Creators should consider the consequences of their statements and the actions of their audiences?" he asked on stream yesterday while reading Twitch's new guidelines. "No, no, no, no. You cannot have both. I can watch what I say; I cannot watch what my community does. Are you fucking serious?"
Seconds later, one of his viewers used a text-to-speech program, which viewers can type messages into if they make a donation, to complain on stream about "titty streamers". Forsen sighed.
"I might be banned soon," he said. "Apparently."
As the stream went on, Forsen reined in his initial reaction, saying that he believes he's made a good effort to quell his community when it's gotten out of hand. His chat didn't entirely agree, with some posting the kappa emote, which implies irony.
"I don't know why you're kappa-ing," Forsen said.
Forsen eventually came to the conclusion that he's "semi in the crosshair", but not as much as other streamers such as his friend Greekgodx, who has a tendency to pick fights with streamers and whose audience does things such as jokingly threaten Twitch employees. Later that day, Greekgodx joined Forsen on stream as they watched a video of Twitch staff hosting a town hall about the new policies.
The pair acknowledged that some things are probably gonna have to change if they want to stay on Twitch. Both resolved to delete old footage of streams that might break the rules, something Twitch has encouraged streamers to do before the new policies go into effect on Monday, February 19. Both also said they might have to cut down on "banter" and using other streamers as consistent butts of jokes, as that could be considered harassment.
"I'm not going to another platform," said Forsen, after the town hall video concluded. "Fuck that."
"Monday is a new day, I'm gonna be a new Greek, smiley faces and all that bullshit," said Greekgodx, who has 301,431 followers on Twitch.
In the end, Forsen remained concerned, saying that while he'll need to talk with Twitch staff before he's certain about where he stands, some things about his stream and community will probably have to change. For streamers such as Forsen and Greekgodx, who make a living off another company's platform even though they are not employees of that company, continuing to pay the bills means playing by the rules.
"You guys are probably pretty hated by Twitch, I'm not gonna lie," Forsen said to his chat, who pride themselves on being at the vanguard of "edgy" (which sometimes means racist, sexist or homophobic) memes, and who've gotten Forsen suspended from Twitch with questionable stunts in the past.
"Twitch might not give a single fuck whether or not you're memeing," Forsen said at another point during the stream. Still, he believes that his community is bigger than ever, and he still thinks that Twitch will hesitate to permanently ban streamers who pull big audiences.
His chat responded with "kill yourself" jokes and Nazi references, among other things. Forsen sighed again.
"Guys, you're gonna get me in trouble," he said.