Entertainment

Twitch ban streamer after viewer sends racist text-to-speech donation

by Calum Patterson

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Twitch have handed partnered streamer Alfie a 24-hour suspension from the platform, after a viewer sent a donation which repeated a racial slur using the text-to-speech function.

Text-to-speech (TTS) allows users to have their donation message read aloud by software, meaning viewers can hear the message without the streamer themselves having to repeat it.

It has long been used on Twitch to comedic effect, but trolls also use the feature in an attempt to broadcast rude, or even racist, messages on a streamer's channel.

Alfie is best known as a RuneScape streamer on Twitch, with over 140,000 followers.

There are tools available to prevent this, such as word filters, but are easy to circumvent, as one donator managed on Alfie's stream, resulting in what sounded like the 'n word' being blasted loudly, and repeatedly, on stream.

Irrespective that it was the donator to blame, Twitch holds streamers responsible for preventing such content on their channel, but with Alfie apparently out of the room at the time, he claims it was not possible, as he wasn't aware.

He states that upon returning to his setup, he was apologetic for "5 minutes straight", but Twitch has deemed his inaction and failure to stop the TTS donation worthy of a temporary suspension.

Angered by Twitch's decision, Alfie called it a "new low", and argued that it "gives power" to the racist trolls, whose intention is the very outcome of this situation - the streamer facing punishment.

Alfie's channel is set to be reinstated on May 21, but it will count as a 'first strike' of sorts, with any subsequent violations of community guidelines typically resulting in longer bans.

Twitch has come in for criticism already in May, after two streamers, TFBlade and Pink Ward, were both handed 30 day bans for hate speech, but both say they were misheard.

In TFBlade's case, he claimed he said 'idiot's, not the n word, and although his ban was reduced to seven days and then eventually overturned, Twitch did not issue a public apology. 

Similarly, Pink Ward claims he said the word 'yikers', and not the racial slur - his ban remains at the full 30 days at the time of writing.