Twitch Is Cracking Down On Simp Emotes Because Of Harassment

Image: Fedmyster

“Simp” is, to put it lightly, a divisive term. On Twitch, TikTok, and Twitter, people mostly use it to express hyper-exaggerated thirst, often to get laughs out of friends or communities. But the word also has more negative connotations, and even though it’s undeniably become part of the broader Twitch lexicon, Twitch itself doesn’t seem too fond of it. Recently, it’s been deleting emotes that contain any mention of the word.

In fact,, Twitch has been on a simp emote deleting spree going as far back as late February. Kotaku has discovered that, in the past two weeks alone, Twitch has rejected or deleted at least 15 different streamers’ variations on the form—and that’s just streamers who’ve publicly spoken out about the untimely demises of their emotes. Some are smaller streamers with just a few thousand followers. Others are bigger. For example, earlier this week, Federico “Fedmyster” Gaytan, a popular streamer who’s part of the same OfflineTV content creator group as Twitch megastar Imane “Pokimane” Anys, announced on stream that his “FedSimp” emote had been removed by Twitch “for targeted harassment and bullying.”

Simp emotes are generally innocuous, depicting either the streamer or a relevant character holding up a sign with “simp” written on it, or, in some cases, just the word itself in reference to a character (“Simp 4 Loba” in reference to Apex Legends hero Loba, for example), or even the word on its own. In Gaytan’s case, it was a picture of Gaytan pointing accusingly with the word “Simp” printed on his head.

Twitch partners who are in good standing with the company can often submit new emotes without needing manual approval, but some simp emotes have been rejected at the door. Most of these rejections have been accompanied by the same email, which reads “Harassment: Disallowed content—Targeted insults, bullying, and threatening or inciting abuse” and links to Twitch’s emote guidelines. Kotaku asked Twitch for more details on why simp emotes in particular are now dumpster fodder, but a Twitch spokesperson merely said that “Our community guidelines prohibit harassment, and as a part of this, we deny emotes that are designed to abuse or demean others, or can be misused for such behaviour.”

Many streamers take issue with that characterization of their emotes, but that’s where things get thorny. The term “simp” has a long and pernicious history, originating in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the ‘90s, only to get appropriated in the 2000s by online misogynists who use it to refer to men who submit themselves to women to gain their attention, usually in pursuit of sex. More recently, it’s filtered up into the meme culture of sites like TikTok and Twitch, becoming a regular part of those platforms’ vernaculars and serving as an openly thirsty version of stanning—aka professing undying loyalty to a person or thing. It is difficult to find breaks in the chain of the word’s linguistic lineage. Some people use the word pridefully, calling themselves simps for particular people that they legitimately, unironically adore. Others joke about it, usually in relation to their relative horniness on main. Others (who are often men) take it gravely seriously, shouting from the rooftops that nobody should ever simp for a woman, because it’s a sign that you don’t deserve your man card or whatever.

Streamers whose emotes have been rejected or removed have vehemently protested, saying they meant no harm—and certainly not to draw on the latter meaning of “simp.”

“My community never used it with ill intent,” said Gaytan, whose community often jokes about how he’s a simp, during his stream. “It was mostly banter and, in some cases, a compliment. Really unfortunate... One of my favourite emotes.”

“The emote was mainly just a joke within my community,” another streamer, Selmacashmoney, told Kotaku in a Twitter DM. “We always joke about being simps or others simping.” She went on to acknowledge that the word has many meanings, including “extreme cases” of people legitimately obsessing over women, which she finds “quite creepy rather than empowering.” But that was not how she intended for her emote to be used.

A streamer named Joey Kaotyk said that his emote was even more in-joke-y, referencing his relationship with his fiance. “Honestly, I’m a simp [for] my own fiance, so it’s sort of an inside joke within my community and people who also watch her stream,” he said in an email to Kotaku. “I wasn’t sure why [the emote] was removed. It was a cute emote with no hate intended.”

Twitch has not yet succeeded in removing all simping-related emotes, however. Many streamers who’ve had their emotes removed or rejected complain that everybody else has one, which has led to a familiar refrain: Twitch is inconsistently applying its rules again, just like with its dress code policy, body painting, breastfeeding, hateful speech, and heaps of other issues besides.

However, it also seems like Twitch’s tangle of disparate systems has created a whack-a-mole situation for moderators. For example, in one case I came across, a streamer claimed they were able to get their simp emote through the review process simply by not including “simp” in its name. Then there’s the fact that streamers who are in good standing don’t have to go through the review process at all. Wraithyn is one such streamer. His simp emote is a picture of a fish with the word “simp” beneath it, and so far, it remains part of his channel.

“I had no idea they were removing them,” he told Kotaku in a Twitter DM. “It seemed harmless. Ours is a bit of an inside joke—that’s why it’s a picture of a catfish.” He noted that a viewer designed the emote and explained it to him by saying, “I simp for Wraithyn and ONLY WRAITHYN!” Wraithyn, then, considers it a “meme of affection.” He said it’s only been available on his channel for a couple days so far, and his viewers have mostly been using it to shout out donations.

But, as a result of the word’s many uses, he’s not sure how long his emote will be allowed to stick around. “It’s bizarre to me that people are demonizing men treating women well,” he said. “It’s the new ‘beta’ in some cases. In others, it’s just someone who shows admiration for another.”

At this point, that seems to be the issue: It’s not necessarily what streamers and their audiences are doing with simp emotes, but what they (or other, more malicious types) could do.

“I think they just know the term can be used as a derogatory term for those who support women and female streamers,” a streamer named J. Cyrus, whose simp emote was removed by Twitch after a viewer reported it, told Kotaku in a Twitter DM. “So they probably wanna cut down on people calling others simps for donating.”

This approach makes sense given the number of Twitch emotes that have, over time, become associated with abuse and harassment, often along the lines of race and gender. Better to nip potential problems in the bud before they can truly take root.

Selmacashmoney, however, thinks that Twitch has bigger problems on its hands than simp emotes.

“I could definitely see how the simp emote could be used for bullying,” she said. “However, I also think there are many other emotes that could be used for bullying and are used in a negative context, yet they’re still allowed.”

That seems to be the general consensus among streamers I spoke to: In isolation, it makes sense that Twitch would aim its laser-sighted banhammer at simp emotes, but in the grander scheme of things, they’re kind of a weird target.

“I think simp emotes are very low-tier for bullying,” said Selmacashmoney, “but I do understand the need for caution.”


Comments

    If you're not a simp, then you won't be offended. Simple

      You'd only think simp is okay if you're a misogynist.

      See how easy it is do make ridiculous statements?

      I like how it is a term that is negative towards males, yet is somehow misogynistic. male insulted, women most affected.

        Yeah, I came down here to say the same thing.
        "by online misogynists who use it to refer to men who submit themselves to women to gain their attention, usually in pursuit of sex"
        it's misogyny to insult men?
        it's misogyny to insult men who, in the context of this very article, in the context of the very sentence I just quoted, are nice to women just to get sex?
        fuck those guys. if you're being nice to a woman just to get sex, then you're a creep.

        I suppose I might be a bit disingenuous here; I think implicitly the real problem isn't calling creeps out for simping, but calling anyone nice to women a creep. it's basically applying motive to anyone being nice, which isn't good.
        but that's still not misogynistic.

        Classic Nathan, I suppose. I think you said it best, "male insulted, women most affected."
        What a dumb take.

          I mean I can SEE how it's affecting women

          You have a group of people financially supporting a stranger because they supply dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and/or endorphins, and that group are becoming emotionally damaged cause their value system and financial choices are being mocked worldwide, and that may endanger the suppliers income

    I have just discovered the word "simp", thanks to this article.

    I had to also do a bit of research on Google.

    Wtf, Internet.

      Im envious that it took you this long to see the word.
      Just like most of the buzz insults, it will be overused and relegated to the trash like most of them are in a couple of months when something new arrives.

        It’s already overused.
        I saw it in a Twitter comment one morning and by the afternoon I saw it in comment sections all over the places I visit on the web, spreading like an edgy wildfire that left nothing but cringe in its wake.

        Whats funny though is that twitch is basically breathing new life into the meme. Its a fact that if you tell the internet not to do something the internet will do the opposite.

        This is a useless action by twitch.

        I always find that I'm super out of touch with "what the kids say these days", and I'm only 32 years old.

        It's been a while due to COVID-19, but I'm a judo coach and I work with children and teenagers... and the amount of stuff that they do and say that just blows over my head.

        I only found out what "yeet" means, a few months ago.

        For the record, I think "simp" is a dumb word.

    So is it an abbreviation of "simper"? Or like one who is attracted to someone who simpers, or something...

    Last edited 09/05/20 5:22 pm

    Is that what it means? I thought it was short for "simpleton", especially since it seemed to always feel like it was used in a negative context. Though I always had a feeling that "simper" was a possible meaning which seems to be more relevant.

    Well twitch probably makes very good money off females convincing men to donate money to them (which twitch gets a healthy cut of). It makes sense they wouldn't like a culture that suggests or calls out people for doing things that make them money.

    I never knew this definition. They've used the term in the Judge Dredd continuity for years to describe people who dress like simpletons and act clownishly.

    That's all enough to get it flagged by Twitch's usual overly cautious attitude towards bullying. They understand that they're live TV, with communities that easily break up into factions, and a large semi-anonymous userbase with a lot of time on their hands. It's an environment where bullying and general community hostility can get really out of hand really quickly.

    However in this case it also presents a problem for the business model. Twitch is effectively of built on soft-simping. It's a platform where you give money to streamers because you like them. At a basic level that's what's being mocked when the word simp is being thrown around. Most little fish subscribers can shrug it off because they know it doesn't mean them but the whales struggle to deny that it applies to them and Twitch does not want anyone making them feel less than 100% welcome.

    I watch a streamer at work fairly often because her stream is great for dropping in and out of. Most of her community is cool and she plays stuff I like that's aged a bit too badly for me to want play myself. The bulk of her subscription and donations come from three guys who are clearly just paying for attention. She discourages it in that she doesn't lead them on or encourage it at all, but nobody is going to turn around and say 'please take your money and leave' when it's thousands of dollars a month.
    I also watch a streamer who does a pretty regular stream. He has a very similar problem in that there's a few guys who clearly think they're best friends. They can recite all the interests and opinions he's mentioned in previous streams like walking wikis. Individually they don't make up as large a percentage of his income as hers but there are more of them still pump a significant amount of donations and subs into the channel.

    Right now nobody is really calling out either group as simps. Everyone awkwardly ignores the guys in the former channel and nobody really connect the dots on the latter. It wouldn't really take much for people to start laughing at both groups and it could cost Twitch a lot of money. As funny as it is to call a hype train a simp train someone at Twitch must be furious because it takes an overlay that was designed to make people want to pay to be put on and flips it into something you'd be embarrassed to be a part of.

      This is the best take in the whole thread, well done.

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