Twitch recently announced that it’s adding verification tools to combat abuse on the platform.
It is the result of the torrent of abuse that streamers predominantly from marginalised or minority communities have faced.
Hashtags like #DoBetterTwitch or #ADayOffTwitch were trending during the last couple of months, and with creators calling for actions.
A spokesperson for the streaming platform announced thatit it hoped that the new measures will “reduce the number of channels” that are impacted by misuse.
Radio 1 Newsbeat has spoken to streamers who have been targeted, including 19-year-old Max who is a bisexual transgender man.
“Being so open about my identity is met with a lot of hate from people I don’t know most of the time,” he states.
The kind of harassment that people who use Max suffer is via the process of hate raids – an act of targeted attack on people who are mainly of marginalised or minority groups.
What exactly is a “hate raid?
“Raid” or “raid” is a feature on Twitch which allows streamers to redirect their viewers to another channel when they stop streaming typically, it is used to boost an existing or smaller channel.
In a hate-rally an individual uses bots – fake users who can be programmed to either watch the channel or enter chats to overwhelm the chat area of a streamer with abusive messages.
Some streamers have complained which can result in accounts that have been the victims of hate raids being removed – when they’re offline and are unable to handle slurs being used in chat and are identified by the platform.
Twitch channels may feature chat functionality and the rules of the platform stipulate that streamers are accountable to control the content that they put in their stream.
The streaming platform has stated that it will soon add chat features that require verification of phone numbers, that means streamers can require viewers to provide a verified phone number in order to talk on Twitch, in conjunction with Twitch hoping to reduce bots’ hate-robbing incidents.
The next step is blocking accounts. If an account linked to a telephone account or email is blocked and all the other accounts associated to those accounts will be shut down.
Twitch has also initiated lawsuits against those who are involved with “chat-based attacks against marginalised streamers”.
Max Max, who is from South East England, has been streaming for the past year as he wanted “to create more positive and realistic representation for trans people” on Twitch But the abuse has increased in the last few months.
“I’ve been told to kill myself, called the T-slur for trans people, the F-slur for gay people and misgendered numerous times.”
“What really upsets me is my community and viewers, seeing horrific messages spammed in my chat and not knowing what’s going on.”
“It’s not nice when people come in and spam slurs in the chat when you’re just trying to play a game and create a positive impact.”
And that’s something that 23-year-old Sami who was a victim of a targeted by the police only a few weeks ago is able to relate to.
My targeted threats I’ve received seem to be inspired by the fact that I’m a girl.” the streamer, who is from Belgium tells Newsbeat.
“My chat was spammed with hateful comments, sexualising comments, about me killing myself, tonnes of slurs like the N-word and the R-word.”
“I was stunned, I didn’t know what to do at the time,” she says.
Sami claims she tried to stream but she stopped streaming for a period of a week because she “didn’t feel safe”.
For the 22-year-old Ty He’s been subjected to hatred attacks that targeted his skin tone.
“It will be really vile comments about my appearance and racial slurs, it just shocks me,” the 22-year-old from Gloucestershire informs Newsbeat.
“It’s frustrating and upsetting to see words like the N-word being spammed through different characters while I’m live.”
In the worst case the man was raped daily for nearly seven days, averaging an hour into each stream.
It shouldn’t be a problem for a multi-billion-dollar company’
Ty has admitted to sending emails to Twitch and would like them to be more efficient in getting in touch with streamers.
Max thinks that the use channel tags, for instance those for LGBTQ, like the LGBTQ channel tag is being used to discriminate against streamers from minority groups.
“It could also be you in the crosshairs of a potential target because hate-raiders are able to go to for the tag.
“The fact Twitch added that before any real protection for streamers, makes you feel left in the dark and uncared about.”
Max as well as Ty have both been victims of Trolls that have used symbols to substitute for English words in order to avoid restriction – and are both looking to have this be fixed.
“These things shouldn’t be too difficult for a multi-billion dollar company,” Max declares.
Sami believes that the issue of moderation is one and many streamers are who are left to their own devices which can become overwhelming during the event of a hate-filled raid.
“I don’t have a lot of moderators, just friends who sometimes do it for me. And now I have to look for real ones to be able to protect me and my community so I can feel safe.”
Max, Ty and Sami participated in a single day boycott of Twitch on September 1st and believe that the platform can benefit from streamers who developed the software they use to stay free from bots and avoid harassers who are stealing their data.
“It should have been done by Twitch in the first place,” Sami says.
“I’m quite fed up of having to find my own solution to a problem they should be handling. It’s not my platform, I just stream on it and provide content,” Ty says.
After announcing the new policies, Twitch said “no single tech solution will ever block bad actors’ behaviour entirely” however, more tools will be coming in the near future.
“Our work to make Twitch safer will never be over, just as there’ll never be a single fix for harassment and hate online.”