New Twitch Rules Ban The Confederate Flag, ‘Unwelcome’ Comments About Streamers’ Appearances

New Twitch Rules Ban The Confederate Flag, ‘Unwelcome’ Comments About Streamers’ Appearances
Image: Twitch

Today, Twitch announced a “significant” update to its harassment and hateful conduct policies. The update takes aim at multiple blind spots in Twitch’s previous rules, adding clearer language about membership in hate groups, symbols like the Confederate flag, and sexual harassment.

In a blog post, Twitch outlined the impending changes, which will go into effect on January 22. They’ll run the gamut from concrete, explicit rules about hate groups and symbols (they’re banned) to broader philosophical shifts. Twitch opened its post with what it seems to consider the biggest change:

“Words and actions have meaning and impact, even if your intent is not meant to be hurtful or cause harm,” wrote Twitch. “And even if the target of your behaviour or comments isn’t bothered by them, others in the community may nevertheless feel impacted by it. Under the new policy, our Safety team will look at the content of statements or actions in order to determine whether a behaviour is abusive and violates our guidelines, rather than relying solely on perceived intent.”

So basically, even if you’re not necessarily trying to harm or antagonize someone, if your actions ultimately result in a negative outcome, you can still face consequences.

The new rules also more explicitly forbid many behaviours that could be considered harassment or hateful conduct. These include:

  • Claiming that the victim of a well-documented violent tragedy is a “crisis actor” or lying
  • Encouraging others to DDoS, hack, doxx, or swat another person
  • Inciting malicious raids of another person’s social media profiles off Twitch
  • Hate groups and hate group propaganda
  • The Confederate flag (on account of its “historic and symbolic association with slavery and white supremacist groups in the US”)
  • Malicious emote combinations
  • Attacks rooted in caste, colour, or immigration status
  • Black/brown/yellow/redface “unless they are being used in an explicitly educational context”

Twitch has also given sexual harassment its own separate section within the new rules, acknowledging that in the previous rules “our guidelines didn’t adequately account for harassing behaviours that are sexual in nature.” Beginning in January, there will be a “much lower tolerance for objectifying or harassing behaviour.” Twitch provided examples of behaviours that will now be considered sexual harassment:

  • Repeatedly commenting on someone’s attractiveness, “even in what you believe to be a positive or complimentary manner… if there is indication that it’s unwelcome (i.e. you’ve been asked to stop, timed-out, or channel-banned)”
  • Making lewd or explicit comments about anyone’s sexuality or physical appearance
  • Sending unwanted/unsolicited links to nude images or videos

Twitch also intends on changing how it enforces these rules, with the goal of better aligning punishments with their corresponding crimes.

“This iteration of our guidelines is also much more detailed, with enforcements tailored to the severity of the action or language,” Twitch wrote. “As a result, behaviours that are relatively low in severity, or language commonly viewed as being colloquial, will receive warnings or lighter suspensions, while more malicious or overtly harmful behaviours and language will receive stricter penalties — the most severe violations will continue to receive an indefinite suspension on the first offence. In total, we expect that the penalties under this iteration of the policy will scale more appropriately to the severity of the violative behaviour.”

Of course, making rules is only part of the equation. Twitch has struggled to consistently enforce its own rules for nearly as long as it’s existed. That’s where it needs to improve the most. Come January, we’ll find out if Twitch really means what it says, or if different rules still apply to different streamers.

Recommended Stories

Twitch Suspends Leafy, The Banned YouTuber Who Harassed Pokimane

LeafyIsHere is a creator known primarily for picking on other creators. Last month, he was permanently banned from YouTube for repeatedly violating the company’s harassment policies after a series of videos about Twitch star Imane “Pokimane” Anys — one of which kicked off a hashtag campaign around the existence of...

Read more


  • ” The update takes aim at multiple blind spots in Twitch’s previous rules ”


    You care so much Nathan you forgot in under a week


      • Treating others with dignity and banning terms like ‘blind playthrough’ would be completely different circles on a Venn diagram. The word ‘blind’ is not pejorative. It’s not the same as calling someone ‘four eyes’.

        It seems like Twitch is aptly named, apparently having an SJW’s axe embedded in its nervous system.

      • I don’t know about you, But I think treating blind people like they are so fragile, that the innocuous use of a single world will harm them greatly, is not treating them with dignity.

        But that’s just me, I treat blind people like normal human beings.

    • I know, right? These SJW types have to keep track of so many ‘banned’ terms that their instincts are bound to betray them at some point. I guess it takes hard work and dedication to virtue-signal consistently.

      • The amount of circular virtue signalling by right wing nut jobs around here, for sure, does seem like it must require constant and unrelenting hard work. Indeed, it’s amusing how angry some people get when their god damn constitutional right to offend other people is restricted in some trivial way.

        Still, it’s nice that Kotaku is willing to offer RWNJ’s a forum in which they can impotently shout their bitterness directly into the wind, in a safe space where there is little risk of them harming themselves or others, or indeed, of them changing anything at all.

          • Blind is not an inherently offensive word, no. As with any word, ‘fat’ for example, whether a word is offensive entirely depends on context. Some contexts people find confronting or inappropriate, other contexts are not.

            Nonetheless, the fact that you personally don’t consider something offensive is neither here nor there, and the fact that some blind people consider some uses of the term blind acceptable and other uses less acceptable does not make them hypocrites, despite your attempt here to pretend here that there is no room for nuance in the space between a complete ban and open slather.

            Nobody has ever argued that the word ‘blind’ should be banned, that’s just a stupid slippery slope distraction perpetuated by RWNJs as if changing the description of something on Twitter is inevitably going to lead to dogs and cats sleeping together and the end of the world as we know it.

            But look, good job putting words in other people’s mouths. It’s so much easier to win an argument when you’re arguing with a straw man.

        • I’m starting to think that it’s not worth trying to get people to see the difference between blind meaning impaired vision, and blind meaning “not knowing what’s going on” (as is the case with “blind” play throughs that aren’t being who can finish Mario with a blindfold on ).

          It still amazes me how huffy people get when asked to change a word or two so it becomes slightly more welcoming to others, it feels very American “personal freedoms” to me.

    • You do realise that everyone has a blind spot, don’t you? It’s not referring to people with vision problems, it’s literally a thing everyone has.

      Don’t worry champ, you keep pouring through every article written by people you don’t like, you’ll get ’em eventually.

  • So the confederate flag is banned… they gonna ban any flags of active nations abusing human rights? No I don’t mean the sly shots people get heated over here and in the USA. I mean the countries that still practice I dunno Genital Mutliation, Slavery, Human Trafficking? No? because only the United States and other western countries have histories of doing bad things while no other country in the world continues these thing!

    This is the moronic choice of someone who doesn’t care about the world outside of twitch or is too greedy to piss off foreign parties.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!