The Rundown on Why Twitch’s New Policy and Guideline Changes Suck

By

Feb 12th


Live streaming giant, Twitch has recently updated their community guidelines within this last week and they have done it in an ever so bold manner. The changes have been publicly released on their blog and the reactions within the last few days haven’t been so mixed – they have been completely one sided. In a bad way.

Twitch begins by saying “Today, we’re sharing an update to our Community Guidelines. This is just the first of many improvements coming to the policies, moderation processes, and safety features on Twitch.” Like many promises by many companies, Twitch hasn’t always had the best track record with how transparent and clear they are with issues that are important to their own community and people have been yelling this from the rooftops over the last year after multiple incidents of popular streamers being banned for reasons that just couldn’t be justified by Twitch’s old community guidelines as they were too vague and simply, just did not have a lot of rules in it.

To top it off, while some streamers were being banned for vague and obscure reasons – streamers that were blatantly breaking the rules were getting away with no suspensions or consequences what so ever. And as you can imagine, there has been a lot of backlash. A lot of backlash, but not a lot of a reaction from Twitch. Until now… or so we thought.

Twitch continues to say “We use our Community Guidelines to keep the community strong and safe. These guidelines detail the content supported on Twitch, rules for streamers and viewers, and much more. Our goal is to ensure Twitch is a place where everyone feels welcome and we will continue to listen to you as we grow and adapt these policies as needed.”

This is where the worrying starts to occur. A place where “everyone feels welcome” means exactly what it says it means, but how on earth are you going to make every single stream on Twitch as a whole – offensive to no one? Not even a few paragraphs into the new changes and we already expect that we are going to see an increase in restriction of content by censorship, rather than just encouraging users to use inbuilt tools and their own sensibility to moderate their own Twitch experience.

Twitch goes on further to say “Twitch began with a single core idea: stream video games online. That simple hook attracted viewers, but they stuck around because you, the streamers, built communities. You built a place viewers felt welcome, a place they could turn to for laughter, gameplay, or friendship. And, as you began to inject more of your personality and interests, you told us you wanted the freedom to create content when you weren’t gaming. So, last year, we loosened our restrictions on non-gaming content.”

This is Twitch setting up for what is to come next. It is true, Twitch used to be strictly for streaming “video games online” before the community grew and streamers wanted to take their viewers to other parts of the “stream” experience and I can’t say that Twitch did a lot, other than introducing a couple very generic sections along with some super generic rules.

Twitch continues with “This let you bring as much of your life to Twitch as you wanted. It let you broaden your community or build new communities in areas like board gaming, talk shows, Creative, music, fitness, and IRL (to name just a few). By sharing yourself on Twitch, you let Twitch become part of your life, and we’re grateful for that privilege.”

How did it turn out Twitch? Seemingly, any Twitch streamer that got big in any of those sections received bans that were more than controversial within the community due to your vague and just plain lack of wording within your very own half-assed guidelines and those that weren’t tended to be streamers that were half naked, or in some cases even completely nude as they claimed their body painting was an art and not simply just straight out perversion.

Now the next two paragraphs is where it gets good, really good. “Over the past several months, you’ve told us certain sections of our Community Guidelines were not clear enough, or, in some cases, not strong enough to govern this ever-changing landscape. And we were too slow to act. To begin addressing this, we’re rolling out a series of updates to the policies, moderation processes, and products that guide interpersonal interaction on Twitch.” Yes, we have told you multiple times – through multiple incidents – over many, many months for you, Twitch to not have the audacity or respect for your very own community to give any sort of response to the situation till now. Thank you for doing one thing right and at least admitting that you were far “too slow to act.”

“Today’s update focuses on our anti-harassment and sexual content policies. 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.” Oh boy. The sole reason that so many users and members of the Twitch community have been so mad at Twitch is because their guidelines have been so unclear, vague, generic and the implementation and persecution of it was always so inconsistent and unfair. All Twitch has done now as brought out more generic and vague rules. They have clarified almost nothing. Their own descriptions which I will soon quote in itself, is so vague.

Twitch user and Reditor “ProteinBiscuit” said “Vague “update” on rules. Overuse of words like “intent” to purposely muddy the waters on what they’ll actually action against. Just twitch attempting to curb complaints about how biased the enforcement of the rules, by being able to say “see! We have these guidelines.” but they’re guidelines that are fully up for extremely biased enforcement.” And the community agrees.

The only change that everyone can be appreciative for was their update on their sexual content and attire guidelines quoting “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. 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.

Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant. As a reminder, we will not tolerate using this policy as a basis to harass streamers on or off Twitch, regardless of whether you think they’re breaking this rule.” A rule that took till 2018 to get in place, but it is finally here. After many, many streamers getting away with their almost “cam model”-esque stream, maybe they will finally be brought to a stop.

But the main issue lies with how Twitch is addressing their new “Anti-harassment and hateful conduct policies”. They come out by saying something like this “First, conduct we deem to be hateful will result in an immediate indefinite suspension. Hate simply has no place in the Twitch community.” This is literally the worst way Twitch could have gone about this.

It is the same vague, confusing and lacking shit that we as a community got fired up for in the first place? Who is going to be the universal moderator on what is “hateful” and what Twitch deems as “hateful”? Because from what I have experienced in the past, is that whatever is left up for Twitch to “deem” tends to be severely inconsistent, one-sided and just simply exploitative of streamers that Twitch personally doesn’t favor. They screw up more by adding “Additionally, we will now consider verifiable hateful or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch when making moderation decisions for actions that occur on Twitch.

If you use other services to direct hate or harassment towards someone on Twitch, we will consider it a violation of Twitch’s policies.” What is going to happen to differing opinions? The many podcasts on Twitch that cause conflict could potentially be at risk of being indefinitely suspended because some people decided that they don’t agree with what is being discussed and debated and it ends up being deemed as hateful?

I mean this has happened to streamers before, so what is to say by strict definition of through these community guidelines that it won’t happen again? Nothing. No where does these updated community guidelines help anyone do anything but send us running in circles while Twitch sits and watches.

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