Twitch’s current policy leads to frequent confusion and drama. Sometimes a streamer honestly doesn’t know why they were sent to Twitch jail; in other cases, they hope to win the sympathy of fans by feigning ignorance. While Twitch has improved suspension emails over the years, streamers have continued to request case-specific details.
Twitch Vice President of Trust and Safety Angela Hession told The Washington Post that suspension emails containing snippets of violations were likely on the way.
“Security is a journey, and it’s the number one request from our community. So we’re looking at how we can attach more details for people to understand – like the video itself. That’s something we’re working on. definitely,” Hession said, adding that more “details and clarity” will come after Twitch defines how it wants to roll out the feature.
Meanwhile, Hession touted Twitch recently added call portal, which simplified the process for appealing suspensions and bans in cases where users feel Twitch has missed the mark. This is essential, given that for some, Twitch is a major source of income; even a few days away can mean cash left on the table or an exodus of paying subscribers. This new tool has validated Twitch’s approach to moderation, said Global Vice President of Security Operations Rob Lewington. Even before the feature was implemented, Twitch routinely checked decisions to ensure they were within platform guidelines, establishing a success rate of over 99%. Now that success rate is even higher.
“When we look at the [appeals portal] data, it turns out that less than one percent is actually much less than one percent,” Lewington said.
Sometimes, however, the issue isn’t whether a moderation decision falls within the guidelines; these are the guidelines themselves. For example, last year the Twitch community erupted in fury over the suspensions of several high-profile creators, including left-leaning political star Hasan “HasanAbi” Piker, for the use of the word “cracker” in a pejorative way. Following this, many streamers felt that Twitch’s policy suggested an equivalence between “cracking” and other overtly dehumanizing slurs against marginalized people. Twitch spokeswoman Ariane de Selliers told The Post that Twitch is reassessing this controversial policy.
“We’ve heard the community’s concerns and are currently working with experts to see if this approach still makes sense for our global community today,” she said. “This process of re-evaluation with experts is ongoing for Twitch.”
Regular reassessment and changing policies have led Twitch to, among other things, an out-of-service rule that takes into account behavior of creators in other public forums like YouTube and Twitter. This should become a particularly pressing issue in the near future, with Elon Musk apparently set to buy Twitter. (Although potentially not. Who knows?) Musk has promised to apply a much lighter touch when it comes to content moderation, which could lead to a much more unruly platform – one at odds with Twitch, which has quadrupled the number of workers available to respond to user reports during the last years.
Since coordinated harassment on Twitter can easily spill over into Twitch chats, some users are preparing for the worst. Hession believes, however, that with an out-of-service policy built with the entire internet in mind, Twitch is ready for anything.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen on Twitter. There are still so many things to decide,” she said. “What I will say is that safety is a priority [for us]. If you look at our out of service policy, it’s really about making sure that no physical harm happens to our community here on Twitch. I would say that our out-of-service policy is broader than just a platform. This is multiple platforms, and our intention is to make sure that we are constantly making sure our community feels safe.
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