Twitch is taking a big stand against the organised harassment campaigns, widely known as “hate raids,” that have proliferated over the past few months by filing a suit against two possible coordinators of the attacks.
In a complaint filed on September 9, steaming giant Twitch lobbed legal action against two anonymous individuals believed to be leaders in the ongoing “hate raids.” Thanks to the platform’s “raid” feature, which allows streamers to redirect their viewers to another stream, bad-faith actors can funnel droves in a harassment campaign to another channel. Those users typically don’t arrive with good intentions; they often hurl slurs, insults, and obscenities en masse at the streamer whose channel they’re sent to. While hate raids have been a problem on Twitch for a while, the issue swelled this summer.
In early August, marginalised streamers rallied behind the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag on social media. On September 1, in an effort to get Twitch to take action, streamers boycotted the platform for a day. It appears to have had an impact — both on the conversation and on the bottom line. Twitch’s traffic for #ADayOffTwitch was about a fifth lower than a typical day.
Twitch has taken some measures for mitigating hate raids in light of the new attention, including the institution of sensors meant to automatically detect users who evade bans. The company has also started banning offenders individually (which, as you can imagine, is a task that will never end). Now, the company’s trying one of the biggest ban hammers on the planet: the United States court system.
Yesterday’s suit, which Twitch provided to Kotaku, names two anonymous individuals who operate under the usernames CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose. The suit alleges that CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose helped promote, organise, and engage in hate raids on a large scale. An extensive Washington Post report detailed how and where hate raids are organised — not on Twitch itself but on clandestine Discord servers, where users can operate away from Twitch scrutiny.
Twitch believes CruzzControl is based in the Netherlands, while CreatineOverdose is purported to live in Austria. Twitch doesn’t yet know the legal name for either user. Both users allegedly operate under a variety of usernames, the latter of whom has displayed some mind-boggling creative genius with handles like CreatineReturns, CreatineBanEvades, and CreatineReported. Since it’s incredibly easy to make a new account on Twitch, banned users can quickly get right back to their vile behaviour. Streamers told Kotaku last month that raising the bar for making a new account — say, by requiring users to sign up with a registered phone number — would be one of the most effective ways to quash hate raids for good.
“While we have identified and banned thousands of accounts over the past weeks, these actors continue to work hard on creative ways to circumvent our improvements, and show no intention of stopping,” a Twitch spokesperson told Kotaku in a statement. “Hate and harassment have no place on Twitch, and we know we have a lot more work to do — but we hope that these combined actions will help reduce the immediate and unacceptable harm that targeted attacks have been inflicting on our community.”