Twitch has faced intense scrutiny this week as a social media movement called for the company to provide better protections for marginalized streamers. Twitch has finally responded to the growing controversy with a generally ambiguous statement in which it promises to keep an “open and ongoing dialogue about creator safety.”
The hashtag “#TwitchDoBetter” has worked its way into Twitter’s trending topics this week after creator RekItRaven posted a video on August 6 illustrating the latest “hate raid” she’s experienced on her channel.
Hate raids and other forms of harassment are widespread on Twitch, especially toward marginalized peoples, as well-documented by the community this week on Twitter. Twitch’s response here takes no suggestions from those on the receiving end of this hate and instead chooses obscure, corporate language with no identifiable action attached to it.
This isn’t ‘better’ — The “Twitch Do Better” movement has been pushing for Twitch to create a comprehensive strategy for protecting and engaging with creators experiencing harassment. Twitch has responded by fixing one part of the problem — a “vulnerability” in its proactive filters — without addressing the larger issues at play.
Twitch’s tone here is also just so… inhuman. There’s no emotion to the statement; it reads as workshopped to all hell until any and all life has been removed from it. This, in response to thousands of people facing targeted harassment and hate. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Twitch’s ability to empathize with creators’ ongoing struggles.
How long will we let this happen? — Twitch’s difficulties ensuring the safety and equality of its community members is nothing new. In fact the problem is so long-standing that last year the company finally gave in and created a whole Safety Advisory Council to fix platform-specific policy and content issues.
As the platform continues to grow at a staggering rate, it will need to scale its anti-harassment operations just as quickly. The company has put a number of seemingly robust policies in place to combat hate, but it’s evident the work it’s doing is nowhere near enough.
Twitch says it’s launching channel-level ban evasion detection and improving account verification methods later this year. Those should make it a little more difficult for would-be harassers to use Twitch for spreading hate, but they won’t fix the company’s much broader attitude problem, which comes across as an overwhelming apathy toward its user base.
It’s no use trying to read between the lines of Twitch’s statement. There’s no apology here; there’s no culpability. Twitch doesn’t just need to do better in protecting its creators — it needs to get much better at communicating with them, too.