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Twitch introduce new anti-harassment rules


Twitch have announced updates to their anti-harassment and sexual content policies after feedback from viewers suggested their guidelines were not clear or strong enough.

The streaming giant also admit they have been “too slow to act” when it comes governing the “ever-changing landscape” of Twitch.

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Twitch revealed changes to their community guidelines yesterday. The streaming service explained that “Twitch began with a single core idea: stream video games online”, however loosening restrictions on non-gaming content last year meant the rules which once governed Twitch are now not strong or clear enough.

“Our goal is to increase clarity, strength, and consistency across our entire moderation framework, as well as the frequency and level of detail of our moderation communications,” Twitch explained in a blog post. “We want everyone to not only feel welcome on Twitch, but to be proud to be part of the community. To that end, we are strengthening our stance on harassment and hate.”

The first major change is to Twitch’s anti-harassment and hateful conduct policies. Twitch’s currentcommunity guidelines cover “hateful content and harassment”, with hateful conduct being “any content or activity that facilitates, promotes, or encourages discrimination, harassment, or violence based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or nationality.” However, this does specify if the hate needs to take place on Twitch or could just be aimed at those using Twitch.

The new hateful conduct policy is much more specific, clarifying that those who are deemed to be taking part in hateful conduct will be indefinitely suspended as “hate simply has no place in the Twitch community.”

“We will now consider verifiable hateful or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch when making moderation decisions for actions that occur on Twitch,” Twitch said. “If you use other services to direct hate or harassment towards someone on Twitch, we will consider it a violation of Twitch’s policies.”

The streaming service are also cracking down on hateful language and actions, regardless of whether they are jokes, promising to moderate channels better.

“We are also updating our moderation framework to pay close attention to the context and intent in addition to the words or actions used. Please remember, even if you’re just joking with your friends, you’re still choosing to stream on a service that reaches a large audience.”

The second big change is to sexual content guidelines. Currently there are two sexual content guidelines on Twitch’s community guidelines. The first, titled “pornography and other sexually explicit conduct” prohibits “any content or activity involving pornography, sexual intercourse, or adult services”. The second, titled “inappropriate broadcaster behaviour and attire” prohibit “nudity and conduct involving overtly sexual behavior and/or attire.”

Twitch, and users, did not feel these guidelines were strong or clear enough. Understandably so, as there’s been some controversy over Twitch body painters being banned and where the line is crossed between art and perversion.

“Twitch is an open global community with users of many ages and cultures. Because of this, it’s important that your content is not sexual in nature,” Twitch explained. “We’re updating our moderation framework to review your conduct in its entirety when evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive.

“We’ll be looking at contextual elements such as the stream title, camera angles, emotes, panels, attire, overlays, and chat moderation. Offering access to prohibited sexual content such as ‘lewds’ on Twitch remains prohibited.”

When is comes to things like cosplay and body-painting, Twitch have become clearer on what is acceptable. Any attire worn by streamers must be “appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant.”

For those concerned, Twitch go into further detail in their Town Hall video.

The rules will not be put into effect until February 19, with Twitch saying that, during the transition period, they will be “reaching out to some streamers whose current and past content may violate these new guidelines”.

These are just the first of many changes Twitch are making to community guidelines in an effort stamp-out toxicity on the streaming platform.

“In the coming months, we will also be revisiting our enforcement policies for both partners and non-partners, our appeals process, IRL guidelines, and preventing user-to-user harassment,” Twitch said. “You can also expect significant improvements to AutoMod, Twitch’s automated chat moderation system.”

The new Twitch community guidelines will go into effect on Monday, February 19.