For Streamers Dealing With Stalkers, Twitch's Solutions Fall Short

Photo: Tanya DePass

For the last 41 days, a Twitch user named Mosheddy has been persistently harassing a streamer named Tanya DePass. She quickly banned him from her channel, but now he lurks, follows her to other people’s Twitch chats, sends private messages to everyone he can, and has friends drop into chat with messages “from Mosheddy.”

Twitch hasn’t banned Mosheddy, and DePass doesn’t know what to do.

Tanya DePass is a streamer, consultant, and director of a non-profit called I Need Diverse Games. DePass feels like she’s being stalked, she told Kotaku over the phone last week, and she can’t do anything about it because bans administered by Twitch streamers don’t prevent people from watching their channels or seeing who’s in chat.

Whenever she streams, she can count on people in her community getting creepy DMs, either from a person who goes by the handle “Mosheddy” or his friends, some of whom have created accounts that specifically mention Mosheddy to taunt her. Other channels DePass has hosted, sent her community into using Twitch’s “raid” feature, or even just decided to watch on her own have also ended up being trolled by Mosheddy and his sympathizers.

This is all happening despite a suite of Twitch tools and a terms of service that should, in theory, enable streamers to curate their communities and experiences—and, most importantly, protect themselves from users they feel threatened or upset by. DePass’ troll has uncovered a series of easily exploitable loopholes.

Sure, now that DePass has banned him, he can’t talk in her channel’s chat, but he can still follow it, see who’s in her community, DM them, and tag along any time DePass decides to hit up another channel.

DePass says it’s made her uncomfortable streaming and forced her to lock down a community she once envisioned as an oasis from social media’s endless, landmine-ridden desert.

“No matter what I did, he would follow along,” she said. “Now my Discord is locked down, everyone gets put into a welcome room, it’s subscriber-only Twitch chat, subscriber-only [recordings of previous Twitch streams]. I have to go back and make sure people don’t make weird clips... That’s not the community that I wanna build. That’s the antithesis of what I wanted out of Twitch.”

“It got to the point where streaming made me anxious,” she said. “It still makes me anxious.”

Friends of Mosheddy jumping into a stream associated with DePass (Image: Brann “Prideceratops” Stalhjerte)

For the past month and change, DePass has been documenting Mosheddy’s near-daily intrusions into her community, posting screenshots of Mosheddy lurking in her channel and sending whispers (private messages) incessantly to her viewers, and his friends posting chat messages like “Merry Christmas from Mosheddy.”

She’s reported Mosheddy and accounts associated with him to Twitch, and suggested others do the same. In the absence of results, she’s criticised Twitch for not doing more to prevent this sort of situation from arising. And while one of Mosheddy’s friends did get banned from Twitch entirely—seemingly for ban evasion via usage of alternate accounts—Mosheddy himself remains untouched. (Twitch generally declines to comment on specific users’ bans and did so in the case of this story.)

DePass is far from the only streamer who’s had to stave off Mosheddy’s incessant intrusions. If Tanya DePass mentions another channel, hosts someone else’s stream, or even watches another channel, Mosheddy follows—into people’s chats, DMs, and follower lists. Blocking and reporting doesn’t help.

“He whispered me on Twitch at some point, accusing me of ‘pulling the race card,’ and made comments about people watching and recording us,” DePass’ friend, streamer Brann “Prideceratops” Stalhjerte, told Kotaku in a DM, speaking about an incident that took place “a week or two” after DePass first banned Mosheddy.

“On another date, users came into my own stream and began saying things like ‘Merry Christmas from Mosheddy,’ which had become sort of a popular action for them to take part in,” he said. “When they were banned, they reached out and harassed some of my mod team, who simply blocked and reported.”

Mosheddy DMing another Twitch user about DePass (Image: Tanya DePass)

Streamer AcidQueen described a similar incident, complete with the Christmas wishes. First, Mosheddy entered chat right after DePass started watching, greeting everyone with a troll-y message about how he was PewDiePie.

When he got banned for that, he proceeded to DM one of AcidQueen’s moderation bots with a snide comment about DePass. “He launched one last barb at me (again, via my bot), claiming that ‘Overlord Tanya has ordered you to stop talking to me,’ when really I was just tired of his sad and pathetic self.”

Twitch partner Brandon “iamBrandon” Stennis was aware of DePass’ situation and decided, in conjunction with his moderators, to ban Mosheddy and related accounts before they could ever chat on his channel. However, on a recent occasion when DePass hosted Stennis’ channel, Mosheddy still showed up by proxy.

“Tanya hosted my channel, and a few minutes after, a brand new name in my channel asked specially, ‘Why is Mosheddy banned here?’” he said in an email. Mosheddy himself also DMed people similar messages throughout the stream.

DePass and Mosheddy both said that the incident that set all of this off was DePass banning Mosheddy from her Twitch stream on December 17. Mosheddy and a friend were in the Twitch chat asking DePass why she didn’t use the LGBTQIA tag on her stream. She replied that the tag can serve as something of a signal flare for hateful viewers.

Mosheddy and the friend then pushed the issue, and ended up getting banned. DePass said it was for “being rude about the discussion around LGBTQIA tag and harassment” and arguing with her moderators.

Soon after, DePass said, Mosheddy and the friend followed her into another person’s stream and called her “racist,” “toxic,” and “a lunatic” for banning them. At this point, DePass started tweeting publicly about what was happening.

Reached for comment via DM by Kotaku, Mosheddy admitted that he has been DMing people in DePass’ orbit and joining their channels for more than a month. In his view, it’s all perfectly justifiable, although his justifications don’t hold much water.

“I did stop multiple times, but was invigorated to continue when reading her crusades on Twitter,” Mosheddy said. Even putting aside the fact that “stopping multiple times” is synonymous with “continuing,” it’s not on DePass to stop talking about trolling in the hopes of getting the troll to go away.

Somebody associated with Mosheddy making comments in DePass’ chat (Image: Tanya DePass)

Mosheddy said he also kept up the messages to DePass and her friends because of the reactions of “random” strangers. “Reading comments from random people who would never know me or even want to hear my side of the story, saying they wanted to break my fingers,” he said.

He also pointed out to Kotaku that he had not dropped any racial slurs or sexist comments to DePass, who is black, as if this was some gesture of graceful composure on his part: “And yet I was still able to keep my composure and not say anything racist or sexist towards her, which is apparently her justification for banning me,” he said.

Mosheddy cited many more questionable motivations throughout our conversation, including that on one hand he was on a very serious crusade to get justice for a friend who DePass had somehow gotten banned from a channel they were a regular in, but on the other, it was all for laughs.

“Every person I told the story to found it as funny as I did,” he said. “It’s not difficult to send a message with my name in it, get banned, and then follow afterwards.”

Does Twitch find it funny? Probably not, but it certainly hasn’t taken any action. As Mosheddy’s crusade to troll DePass and any of her friends or associates went went on and on with no resolution, DePass took a step that few streamers are able to: While in San Francisco for business earlier this month, she went to Twitch’s office to discuss the matter in person with its Trust and Safety team. She came away from the meeting, she said, with more questions than answers.

Image: Twitch

“No one could really answer why this guy still had a channel,” said DePass. “He was just skirting the line of what’s actionable.” She thinks that if she was a bigger streamer, things might be different. “It’s not like I make Twitch thousands of dollars a month, because I’m sure if I was a white dude playing Fortnite, PUBG, or some other game making them money hand over fist, this wouldn’t have gone on for hours, let alone a month,” she said.

DePass worries that her community and mental health are fracturing, and is considering heading for less Twitch-purple pastures, like Mixer or YouTube, even if that means losing followers and subscribers. “I do love streaming,” she said, “but I don’t love anything enough—be that the work I do as a diversity advocate at a non-profit, streaming, whatever it is—to sacrifice my mental health and well-being.”

DePass wants to see Twitch take its tools and terms of service more seriously. Even though Facebook is a sputtering toilet explosion in countless other ways, she wishes others would learn from its block system.

“Banning needs to be more than ‘You just can’t talk in a channel,’ she said. “I wish it could be like Facebook, where if you block someone on Facebook, they don’t exist anymore. They can’t find you, they can’t search for you, they can’t interact with you, even if you still have people in common. It’s like you don’t exist.”


Comments

    What a sad, pathetic little man.

    Yet what is worse (?) is how many more sad little people there out there who are jumping in on such things and think what he is doing is justified or just help the ball keep rolling by making that user name into something of a meme.

    Doing all of this, for what, their own amusement, at the cost of a strangers mental health.

    Stop living your life behind a camera. You want to be a celebrity, you get to deal with the crazies who latch on. I have to deal with crazies who latch on from my employment all the time. Does it make it right? No. However these people have real mental health problems and need to be helped.

      I think from memory you and I work in similar fields. I've had weirdos stalk me more than once and one even found out where my father works and tried to get into contact with me through him. It freaked me the hell out. But it's also part of the job on rare occasion.

      People need to be accountable about their choices. She's chosen to go into a very public "job" and many in this kind of role, whether man, woman, black, white, whatever, they get weirdos trying to enter their life.
      You gotta suck it up that the world is filled with dick heads, mental health and intellectually stunted people who have no idea what they are doing is wrong.

      I can tell you interacting with these people and having any form of dialogue with them is mistake number 1.
      Just simply block these people. Don't talk about them, don't feed them by letting them even know that you register they exist. Just block them. Anyone who messages "hi from X" just block them. Don't interact with them. It's this easy. You're not interacting with them on any level other than a silent block.
      You're not fun anymore.

      They are like children, your willpower will outlast theirs because all you do is click a button and ignore them while they have to do all this work of making accounts and messaging people to maintain this interaction. You will win.

      All this sooking screams immaturity.
      You wanna be popular online and be a recognisable face. Then deal with it.

        And no doubt someone will accuse you of victim blaming with this, but that's honestly the only way to deal with it - it's impossible to block every single person that participates, especially those who simply post 'Hi from x'. Don't engage with dicks online and you'll be much happier for it - block and ignore.

        That said it sounds like Twitch doesn't make it easy for this to occur, though I don't know how they can stop someone from merely watching a stream.

          Haha, yeah I feel it's coming.
          I hope most can see that it's not victim blaming, unfortunately being on TV or streaming or whatever you're broadcasting yourself into other people's homes... Some people are bad. You've got to learn to deal with it.
          Kyle Sandilands can't stop someone listening to his God awful radio show. Waleed can't stop select people from watching free to air TV. Same with twitch.

        You have hit the nail on the head. I suppose if I took the time to put my opinion across more eloquently I wouldn't get as many downvotes but really life is too short to tip toe around the elephant in the room. Telling people to accept some form of responsibility for their choices shouldn't be regarded as victim blaming.

    another biased dumpster fire from Nathan Grayson ugh.

    sure this guy is a sad little bag of ass, but cmon stopping is the same as continuing... dude he stops but she can't let it go and keeps bitching about him all over the place he's going to come back this shit going on for so long is half her own damn fault. as for the accusation she played the race card seems likely since she did it in this article what was it if only i was a white guy this wouldn't be happening. because white men never get harassed

    this is a completely one sided article about two absolute arseholes who found each other online and can't stop fucking with each other. this guy should be banned for harassment 48 hours maybe 72. and the racebaiting snowflake should grow the fuck up or leave twitch if this dumbass has impacted your mental health your in the wrong line of work.

    again well done Nathan i love the occasional skewed to buggery article.

      He sure does have something against twitch and steam, doesn't he?

        Well, you gotta keep beating the drum and make sure your particular 'problem' sticks around... Or else it might actually disappear which would be horrible for them sweet, sweet clicks.

      illexi: Sees story about woman getting stalked and threatened online. Sides with the stalker like a garbage person.

      Quick question, do you have kids, illexi, or have you already eaten them...?

      Last edited 31/01/19 3:20 pm

        you have a hard time reading it appears. nice try but your not going to bait me into an argument get back under your bridge.

    Stalking and harassment isn't cool and the guy deserved a ban. That said, you need a certain degree of mental strength to be a streamer - there are pieces of shit that will wear you down with comments and no amount of banning will ever stop it. I don't condone what this guy did but it seems like she just couldn't let it go either, and that's simply provoking it. If you haven't got the kind of personality to be able to shrug off trolls and leave it alone once it's dealt with, you probably shouldn't be a public figure. That might be a harsh attitude to have, but Twitch can't police every single interaction, and it seems like every little comment really got to her. There's no way to insulate yourself from that and have an audience.

    Again what he did was pretty shitty but she probably shouldn't be a streamer if it's affecting her mental health that badly.

    Fun fact: this page crashed 11 times before I gave up trying to read the article. Fix your shit Kotaku

    Some months ago, I had a guy come into my chat with a username that was a parody of my own, and start saying things that made him seem familiar with my life. I assumed, at first, that it was someone I knew just being a bit of a dickhead and I played along.

    Right at the end of the night, I asked him who he was, and he said he just randomly found me and used stuff I'd posted on Twitter to identify my location almost (but not quite) to the street. It creeped me right out.

    I reported him to Twitch but I guess I'm nowhere near big enough on the platform for them to take action, as the account is still there.

      This is why it is important to minimise our digital footprint. I hate that parents post every little thing their child does growing up on the internet because it creates a history on the internet they can never fully erase and it will impact future job aspirations. Hell people are being called out for something they said online ten years ago.

        I 100% should not have to "minimise my digital footprint" because some random psycho decided to stalk me.

        Instead, how about platforms like Twitch stop allowing them to get away with crap like this?

          And give the law a way to deal with it that isn’t completely toothless.

          Wow didn’t expect such hostility. Minimising your digital footprint means to not make it easy for some random to be able to track down where you live or who your friends and family are. This is how identities get stolen and used to get fraudulent loans which ruin your credit history or even worse people dox you and make you lose your job.

          Okay, so they ban them. And then they keep coming back by circumventing bans, or getting others to help.

          I understand what you mean but the technical side of it makes it harder to enforce this sort of thing... and they still have your info regardless. It's somewhat similar to saying that you should be able to leave your house unlocked and nobody will enter and rob it - you should, but somebody might regardless.

          The call seems to be "Twitch should do SOMETHING" but nobody seems to have any solution that would actually work for these kinds of events. And yeah that's shitty, and I'm not suggesting you deserve what happened, but you also need to be realistic.

          you 100% should. take some personal responsibility. whether online or out in the street, providing personal information freely to anyone that wants to stumble across it is a really stupid thing to do.
          some of the information people share on social media (information about what they are doing that day that can easily be traced to a location, especially with photos) is visible by anyone (privacy settings permitting) and is no better than providing your personal details to the potential junkie down the street wanting a cigarette.

          at the end of the day it is no one elses responsibility to stop you from doing stupid shit. youre the one that has to deal with the consequences.

    “It’s not like I make Twitch thousands of dollars a month, because I’m sure if I was a white dude playing Fortnite, PUBG, or some other game making them money hand over fist, this wouldn’t have gone on for hours, let alone a month,” she said.

    Why did she specifically mention white guys? Like, that is a racist statement, as she is asserting that only white men would get it solved quickly. Sure, Twitch defiantly bends to there larger streamers, but there not just white men.

    As for the harassment stuff, he is being an asshole and should deff be stopping that shit. Its not on, and hes only being a stupid wanker for doing it. I would not call it stalking though, more like extreme Stream Sniping. Stalking, to me, would be if there being harassed in person. e,g, letter is the mail, being followed and so on.

    I really think for us to get the full pic of whats going on here, we need to see the first chat convo that got him banned.

    On Twitch it self, how is it already not like Facebook when you ban/block people? That's really odd that its like that...

      Oh dear you said a black person did something racist. You’ll get downvoted for that.

      Neither Nathan Grayson or this streamer wan't you to see how this started, there is no way he's adding that to the article.

      then again it's Nathan he probably didn't even bother to find it, just like he insinuated the guy here said racist or sexist things yet never bothered to provide any proof.

      Last edited 02/02/19 11:00 am

        Worth for more context (this all post-publication): https://twitter.com/cypheroftyr/status/1091871248374788096

          i got sick of reading that after a couple minutes she is a total cow and the other fella is an asshat i said as much before.

          Considering i'm usually at odds with the reporters here even though i like most of your content Alex, i had assumed this was going to be a refutation of my arguments, the only thing i can see here apart from this entitle child pissing and moaning yet again is that the stupid asshole is back to harassing her, and considering the way Nathan wrote this article i can't see why anyone would be surprised.

          Like i said i'm usually at odds with kotaku reporters so please let me know if i missed your point.

            Wasn't making a larger point or anything here - unfortunately there's other stuff that's more pressing - but just adding some extra detail for the story that might help the conversation.r

              well thanks for your reply

              btw i liked your recent article on metro exodus

                All good! I'm looking forward to actually playing the game too, hopefully very soon. Been thinking about that since I was burning time in Fallout 76.

    doubt it only certain people get downvoted for pointing out reality on this website

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