Last month, Twitch streamer Luke “MrDeadMoth” Munday was arrested by Australian authorities after a Fortnite stream during which he seemed to be hitting his partner. Twitch suspended his account shortly after. At the start of this week, however, Twitch viewers were surprised to find that Munday’s channel was already back. His suspension, which some presumed would be permanent, had lasted just 14 days.
After being apprehended on December 9, Munday was charged with common assault. He was then given a four-week court date adjournment to seek legal advice. On December 30, Munday apparently decided to use some of that time to resume his streaming career, announcing a return stream with the words “let’s be positive.” Streamers and viewers were anything but as they recalled the December stream during which Munday, who appeared enraged after his partner demanded he stop playing Fortnite and threw cardboard at him, then walked off-screen and, after what sounded like a slap, viewers then heard sobs in response.
“The man who beat his wife on stream (MrDeadMoth) is currently live streaming from your platform,” said Hazz, a member of popular gaming organisation Faze clan, on Twitter. “How have you allowed this to happen bruh @Twitch? 30 day ban for saying prohibited WORDS on stream. 14 day ban for literally BEATING your wife on stream.”
Throughout the week, other streamers pointed to similar inconsistencies and contradictions in Twitch’s rules, as well as the rules’ general opaqueness.
“Reports about men repeatedly harassing women/Llgbtqa+ on Twitch, esp partners: silence,” wrote streamer Austen Marie. “Oh but they let the wife beater back on!”
“What’s there even to say about this MrDeadMoth guy?” said popular streamer Ellohime. “Dude abused his wife in front of his kids live on stream and is back streaming, but what do I say? Don’t abuse your wife? Don’t let him back? How is this not the MOST common of sense? What am I even typing? This is so absurd.”
“It’s so great as a survivor of domestic abuse & content creator to see a streamer that beat the shit out of his wife while streaming still alive and well on Twitch with 7000+ follows & affiliation,” said streamer Saucy837, who moved from Twitch to Mixer. “Way to send the right message.”
On top of all that, Munday’s return to Twitch netted him a healthy viewer boost, with some presumably there to gawk and others even expressing sympathy. All of the new viewers helped line his pockets, as well as Twitch’s.
Some have argued, throughout the week, that Munday’s partner instigated the physical violence by throwing a piece of cardboard, but others have pointed out that hitting somebody in reaction to that is a seriously questionable escalation. Furthermore, Twitch’s rules state that acts and threats of violence are “considered zero-tolerance violations and all accounts associated with such activities will be indefinitely suspended.” This situation should fall under that category, yet Munday didn’t get banned.
Perma-bans on Twitch are rare, even in the case of egregious public offenses. The platform uses a strike system in metering out suspensions and bans, with first-time offenses typically only netting week-long suspensions and subsequent screw-ups leading to additional weeks, up to one month. The rules are frustratingly vague and inconsistent when it comes to specific punishments for specific crimes, however, with Twitch moderators seeming to make those calls on a case-by-case basis behind the scenes.
For most of this week, Twitch maintained radio silence on Munday’s return, which seemed to infuriate users further. Then, earlier today, Munday’s channel suddenly blipped out of digital existence again. If you try to access it now, you’ll be met with Twitch’s usual error message: “Sorry. Unless you’ve got a time machine, that content is unavailable.”
Neither Twitch nor Munday have stated whether he has been permanently banned or if this is just another temporary suspension. Twitch has a policy against discussing the particulars of these things, and Munday has yet to speak publicly since his channel got put in time-out, nor has he replied to an inquiry from Kotaku. A Twitch spokesperson offered the following statement with regard to the sudden re-suspension of Munday’s channel:
“Protecting the integrity of our community is incredibly important to us,” they told Kotaku. “We want everyone on Twitch to have a safe and positive experience and work constantly toward that goal. Part of that work includes examining our policies and practices when we find they don’t properly address specific incidents to ensure we’re adapting as the Twitch community grows.”
Better late than never, but still late. Some fans have taken this decision, belated though it may be, as a sign that Twitch does listen to its audience after all—but also that Twitch’s internal decision-making is unreliable, to say the least.
“This is why you gotta give ‘em shit on social media,” said streamer BlackLightAttack. “Don’t go harassing individual employees, mind you, voicing discontent is enough. Just stay alert for the next mistake, as they do not seem to have the infrastructure to avoid them on their own.”