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Twitch streamers plan 24-hour boycott in response to ‘hate raids’

Twitch streamers from marginalised communities have regularly spoken out against abuse and harassment they receive on the platform. With instances of ‘hate raids’ continuing to slip past moderators, a day long boycott now aims to drive change.

If you’re big into streaming, you’ll likely have seen the hashtag ‘#TwitchDoBetter’ bouncing around on Twitch and Twitter throughout August.

During a broadcast earlier this month, popular streamer RekitRaven – who is Black and uses they/them pronouns – emotionally recounted a real life trauma on camera for their followers.

While the initial response was overwhelmingly positive from most in the live chat, RekitRaven’s stream was quickly flooded by users spamming the same abhorrent message: ‘This channel now belongs to the KKK.’

It was the second time in a week this had happened, and RekitRaven took to Twitter to expose those involved in the coordinated harassment. This is where #TwitchDoBetter originally came from.

While the term ‘raiding’ is generally considered positive in the realm of Twitch – with streamers encouraging their viewers to head to other channels and bombard fellow creators with praise – a ‘hate raid’ refers to groups of malicious users and bots which hijack a streamer’s live chat with targeted abuse.

Often condemned for failing to address a growing toxic culture, Twitch’s key demographic is comprised of young white males. Meanwhile, the typical recipients of hate and harassment belong to ethnic minority groups, the LGBTQ+ community, or are women.


Twitch’s inclusivity problem

Described by disgruntled ex-employees as a ‘boys club’ where women are seldom valued beyond their sexuality and casual racism is swept under the carpet, Twitch has battled with an inclusivity problem since its conception.

In the last five years, we’ve heard multiple accounts of women allegedly sexually assaulted by men at the company, including forced kisses, groping, and inappropriate messages. In that time, HR staff have been blasted for focusing more on diffusing complaints than addressing them.

Twitch claims to have stamped out the most radical issues of harassment and racism – since a wave of accusations came to light in 2020 – but is still contending with reports of institutionalised sexism and bigotry on both the developer and creator front.

When it comes to streamers, concern is growing that Twitch’s new plethora of tags (focused on specific identities like ‘Black, ’Transgender,’ and ‘disabled,’) designed to streamline its search function may be contributing to the spread of hate.

‘As soon as we got those tags, hate raids started to increase and there’s nothing additional in our toolbox that we can use to combat that because Twitch hasn’t given us anything,’ said RekitRaven.

The wider community of streamers by and large believe that the pros of tags outweigh the cons, but that Twitch need to better head off trolls who’re able to find targets and coordinate attacks easier than ever before.

Strictly speaking, protection just isn’t there. Signing up to multiple accounts requires no form of extra verification and makes it absurdly easy to circumvent bans for those caught out.

‘A Day Off Twitch’

In response to the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag which gained momentum earlier this month, several high profile streamers including RekitRaven, LuciaEverblack, and ShineyPen have organised a boycott titled ‘A Day Off Twitch’ – no prizes for guessing what it involves.

Slated to commence on September 1st, Twitch streamers belonging to marginalised groups (and those in support of their cause) will abstain from posting any content for 24 hours in the hope that reduced engagement will prompt the company to take considered and meaningful action against all abuse.

‘You’re asking us to do better, and we know we need to do more to address these issues,’ said a Twitch spokesperson. ‘Our work is never done, and your input is essential as we try to build a safer Twitch.’

RekitRaven states that the growing cohort is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the branching #TwitchDoBetter campaign’s chances of improving the platform, and has offered up several courses of action the company could take.

Two way authentication is suggested as a means to tackle the mass creating of bot accounts, as well as implementing a weeklong waiting period before new accounts can hop into live chats.

There’s a growing consensus that those who are banned should have their IP addresses ousted, as opposed to just the account – or that the IP at least be flagged to prevent all users from viewing the channel they were caught offending on.

In the aim of taking the movement as wide as possible across the community, it bodes well that creators on Twitch are also becoming frustrated with the company’s top-heavy slicing of revenue streams. By default, Twitch takes 50% of all earnings made on paid subscriptions and tips.

‘This has always been and will always be bigger than me. I’m only one voice. But if I can throw my voice in with others, it becomes a chorus and people will start listening,’ says RekitRaven.

Hopefully this can contribute to making streaming a safer and more inclusive space for all.

 

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