Next week, streamers plan to step away from Twitch for a day in an effort to combat how the platform continually lets it marginalised creators down.
Earlier this month, streamers rallied around the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag on social media, where reports of awful user experiences on the platform proliferated. Many of the posts revolved around how Twitch has offered tepid protections against sustained harassment. In particular, hate raids — in which bad-faith viewers use the platform’s “raid” feature to flood a channel en masse with slurs and vile language — are not only possible, but becoming a daily nightmare for folks using the livestreaming service.
And since it’s nearly effortless to create an account on Twitch, trolls are able to sign up for a bunch of accounts. It’s absurdly easy to circumvent any bans, at least until measures like account verification via phone numbers are implemented.
As The Washington Post reported, Twitch streamers say the issue has only exacerbated in the past few months, possibly the result of the platform expanding its tag list to include 350 tags classified by “gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ability, mental health, and more.” On one hand, this allows creators to more easily find a community. On the other, it’s made it far easier for racist trolls to find — and harass — creators.
Plus, Twitch takes a solid percentage of subscription revenue, with half going to streamers and half going to the platform (which was purchased for nearly $US1 ($1.4) billion by Amazon in 2014). Streamers told Kotaku the split should tip more toward content creators, somewhere closer to a 70/30 breakdown. If streamers have to continuously put up with bullshit, you’d figure they’d at least get a fair chunk of the pie, yeah?
“It’s so heartbreaking to see all the stories of marginalised people on the platform being attacked for something outside of their control like their skin colour, gender identity, sexual preference, or otherwise,” the streamer Rek It, Raven!, who originated the hashtag, told Kotaku via email at the time of the #TwitchDoBetter campaign. “We shouldn’t have to feel fear to press ‘go live.’”
We are continuing the fight.
— ʀᴇᴋ ɪᴛ, ʀᴀᴠᴇɴ! ☠???? (@RekItRaven) August 20, 2021
The #ADayOffTwitch campaign — organised by Raven alongside streamers LuciaEverblack and ShineyPen — is scheduled for September 1. Essentially, it’ll be a 24-hour-long total blackout: no streaming, no watching streams, no logging on to chat. Viewers are encouraged to participate, as well.
Following the #TwitchDoBetter campaign, Twitch quickly rolled out improved chat filters, per The Verge. And last week, the company announced it would implement detection for channel-level ban evasion, but did not offer a timeline for that feature’s rollout. The hope is that a day with reduced engagement on a wide scale will force the company to take note — and, ideally, to take further action.