Twitch has drastically updated its policy on hate and harassment with the new changes going into effect on January 22, 2021. Going forward, certain actions by viewers and streamers will be prohibited, with some being rather self-explanatory while others might be more surprising.
The new policy updates primarily take aim at stopping harassment towards users who Twitch classifies as having “protected characteristics.”
According to the platform, this includes the following: race, ethnicity, color, caste, national origin, immigration status, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, serious medical condition, and veteran status.
The vast majority of the new policies reference users who fall into this category, with some new rules standing out significantly from the rest. Here are the biggest changes going into effect come January 22.
Some emote combinations are now bannable
Twitch states that speech, imagery or even emote combinations that “dehumanize or perpetuate negative stereotypes” are prohibited.
While the platform didn’t give direct examples of emote combinations found on the site, they did further describe the type of material they were referencing such as: “Content perpetuating negative associations between an animal and a protected group, or comparing a protected group to animals that are perceived as inferior or unclean.”
Basically, any sort of racist or discriminatory messages through the use of emotes is not allowed.
Intentionally misgendering someone
According to Twitch, users who intentionally “refer to someone using a pronoun or form of address that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify” could be a bannable violation.
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The wording does give users some leeway though and the benefit of the doubt in the event they unintentionally use the incorrect pronoun in reference to a streamer or viewer.
However, Twitch specifically states that repeating such addresses after being asked to stop is also against the site’s rules.
Exceptions for using slurs in music
Perhaps one of the most eyebrow-raising rules on the platform is the site’s policy on slurs as it pertains to music.
“Using hateful slurs, either untargeted or directed towards another individual,” Twitch states before going on to note that, “We also make exceptions for slurs in music—and singing along to music—as long as the song itself is not hateful and the slurs are not combined with other discriminating or denigrating content.”
This is especially odd considering how DMCA issues over copyrighted music have been plaguing the platform for months, leaving users afraid of playing any tunes during a broadcast and risk a ban. Most streamers are now avoiding playing music altogether on stream.
Accusations of “sexual favors” not allowed
Finally, Twitch has taken aim at a major controversy on the site pertaining to rumors that some streamers have not been banned because they engage in sexual favors with admins.
Accusations similar in tone were levied against streamers such as Alinity, especially after her infamous cat tossing scandal back in 2019.
New words now banned
Perhaps the change that got the most attention on social media, was the move to prohibit “sexually-focused terms”, when using to “repeatedly negatively target someone.” These words include “whore”, “virgin”, or “simp.”
It should be noted that the policy implies that one-off use of these words, if not targeting a particular person or not done repeatedly, would not result in any punishment. But, repeated targeting could.
It’s also important to note that these policies extend beyond just Twitch itself as a platform and will also impact people at conventions or even social media when harassment directed at users occurs.