A number of Twitch channels have gone dark today as part of #ADayOffTwitch, a mass walkout calling attention to what some streamers say is a torrent of abuse by online trolls.
Traditionally, Twitch’s ‘raid’ feature is used to send followers to another channel after a stream is over, helping creators to network and grow their audiences.
In a ‘hate raid,’ though, a streamers’ chat is deluged with abusive language, usually from bot accounts.
The creator or mod has to then stop the stream to ban potentially hundreds of fake accounts, while viewers are subjected to hateful verbiage or offensive images.
Launched by streamers RekItRaven, LuciaEverblack and ShineyPen, who say they’ve been subjected to numerous hate raids, #ADayOffTwitch calls for a complete platform blackout for 24 hours on September 1, with no streaming, watching, or chatting by creators or viewers.
Twitch has met with the boycott leaders and will be hosting roundtables with other streamers to discuss ways to make the platform safer.
In a statement emailed to DailyMail.com, a Twitch spokesperson said the company supported boycotting streamers’ right to express themselves ‘and bring attention to important issues across our service.
As a result of the blackout, Twitch pushed the launch of its September gift-subscription promotion to September 2, to allow boycott participants to partake.
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September 1 is #ADayOffTwitch, a mass walkout on the platform to draw attention the torrent of hate raids that some minority streamers face
Launched in 2011 and purchased by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million, Twitch is the world’s biggest video-game streaming site, according to a report from Streamlabs.
It hosts 91 percent of all gaming streams and more than 30 million viewers a day—2 million of whom will be at any given time of day.
While it dwarfs the number of gaming streams Facebook and Youtube get, Twitch hasn’t developed as robust a response to harassment and hate speech as those sites.
#ADayOffTwitch co-founder RekItRaven, a Black, gender-nonbinary streamer who focuses on horror games, says they generate a large enough following to get paid as a Twitch affiliate.
RekItRaven, a Black, gender-nonbinary streamer, generates a large enough following to get paid as an affiliate. But they say they are targeted with ‘hate raids,’ filling their channel with sexist and homophobic language
But their feed is frequently flooded with racial slurs and abusive language.
‘It just gets hard,’ Raven said in an interview with AFP. ‘I’m being hated on for my skin color, or my sexual preferences, when I don’t have control over that.’
Across social media, streamers have been encouraging creators and viewers to participate in the 24-hour blackout of Twitch
Raven launched the Twitter hashtag #TwitchDoBetter earlier in August, encouraging the platform to improve efforts to address so-called ‘hate raids’ — barrages of racist, sexist and homophobic language— that have plagued some users.
‘It’s so heartbreaking to see all the stories of marginalized people on the platform being attacked for something outside of their control like their skin color, gender identity, sexual preference, or otherwise,’ Raven told Kotaku on August 23. ‘We shouldn’t have to feel fear to press ‘go live.’
Collaborating with LuciaEverblack and ShineyPen, Raven launched #ADayOffTwitch campaign as a complete platform blackout for 24 hours on September 1, with no streaming, watching or chatting by creators or viewers.
“A Day Off [Twitch] is largely about coming together in solidarity,’ ShineyPen, a Filipino, trans streamer, told The Verge. ‘The one day off is a step in the many steps we have to take towards change.’
#ADayOffTwitch co-founder RetItRaven tweeted they’d be spending September 1 ‘with my family, gaming and hanging with friends’
On Wednesday morning, Raven tweeted that taking the day off from streaming felt ‘cathartic.’
‘I’ll be spending this time with my family, gaming and hanging with friends and just taking a f—ing breath. This is not the end. But f—, I am going to enjoy today.’
Raven launched #TwitterDoBetter in August, but complaints about toxic behavior on the app are nothing new.
In December 2020, Twitch updated its hate and harassment policy, acknowledging that women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community ‘continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service.’
The ‘raid’ feature on Twitch lets streamers send their followers to other channels. But in ‘hate raids,’ streamers’ chats are flooded with offensive language and images. Often its women, people of color, and other marginalized users who are targeted
‘Not only is this blatantly unacceptable,’ the company wrote, ‘it also undermines the community we’re building on Twitch and threatens the long-term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it.’
In April, Twitch updated the policy again to indicate that serious offenses that threaten a user’s safety would result in a ban, even if the incident occurred offline.
Such offenses could include violent extremism and terrorism, threats of mass violence and sexual assault, and ties to known hate groups, according to Tech Crunch.
‘No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for,’ the Twitch rep said in today’s announcement.
Twitch has been working for some months on channel-level ban evasion detection tools and account improvements ‘to combat this malicious behavior,’ they added.
‘We’re working hard to launch these tools as soon as possible, and we hope they will have a big impact,’ the rep said. But hate-spam attacks are the result of highly motivated bad actors, they added, ‘and do not have a simple fix.’
There are tools available to creators and moderators—including setting their profiles to only accept raids from friends, teammates, or channels they follow, but most would limit the opportunity to grow an audience and benefit from the affiliate program.
Banning certain words and phrases becomes a Herculean task as trolls use substitute characters and spelling variations,
‘We’ve been continually updating our sitewide banned word filters to help prevent variations on hateful slurs, and removing bots when identified,’ the spokesperson said.
But, they admitted, ‘as we work on solutions, bad actors work in parallel to find ways around them.’