Twitch is finally coming to terms with its responsibility as a king-making microcelebrity machine, not just a service or a platform. Today, the Amazon-owned company announced a formal and public policy for investigating streamers’ serious indiscretions in real life, or on services like Discord or Twitter.
Last June, dozens of women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent video game streamers on Twitch. On Twitter and other social media, they shared harrowing experiences of streamers leveraging their relative renown to push boundaries, resulting in serious personal and professional harm. Twitch would eventually ban or suspend several accused streamers, a couple of whom were “partnered,” or able to receive money through Twitch subscriptions. At the same time, Twitch’s #MeToo movement sparked larger questions about what responsibility the service has for the actions of its most visible users both on- and off-stream.
In the course of investigating those problem users, Twitch COO Sara Clemens tells WIRED, Twitch’s moderation and law enforcement teams learned how challenging it is to review and make decisions based on users’ behavior IRL or on other platforms like Discord. “We realized that not having a policy to look at off-service behavior was creating a threat vector for our community that we had not addressed,” says Clemens. Today, Twitch is announcing its solution: an off-services policy. In partnership with a third-party law firm, Twitch will investigate reports of offenses like sexual assault, extremist behavior, and threats of violence that occur off-stream.
“We’ve been working on it for some time,” says Clemens. “It’s certainly uncharted ..