Twitch has unveiled its new policy on hateful content and will be placing some strict rules on harassment, and even what emote combinations are acceptable.
The Amazon-owned streaming platform has come under fire in recent months with the multitude of DMCA issues and suspensions leaving streamers and fans confused whenever someone is banned.
Furthermore, earlier in June, Twitch pledged to make the platform “safer” after a series of abuse allegations surfaced. Now, with the site cracking down on hateful content, it is taking new steps to make the platform better.
In a December 9 blog post, Twitch revealed its new hateful conduct and harassment policy, which even took aim at emote combinations that could be offensive.
We’re updating our Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy to clarify our expectations and make Twitch a safer and more inclusive place for everyone.
— Twitch (@Twitch) December 9, 2020
“Emotes are an important part of how we communicate with one another on Twitch, but they can be used maliciously,” the site explained. “So emote combinations, even without additional text used in chat, will be held to this policy.”
It’s unclear exactly what combinations they were referring to and didn’t provide any examples. In addition to malicious “emote combinations,” however, users are now banned from displaying the Confederate flag.
“Given its historic and symbolic association with slavery and white supremacist groups in the US, displaying the Confederate flag is prohibited,” they added.
Aside from emote combinations and the Confederate flag, Twitch also detailed its changes to what it considers harassment.
“Several of the changes in this updated policy make certain aspects of our longstanding policy clearer and more explicit,” Twitch explained and cited several examples such as encouraging others to DDos someone or raid their social media channels.
On the sexual harassment front, Twitch is also introducing some changes to combat it and gave it its own category with a low-tolerance policy.
For instance, now, “repeatedly commenting on someone’s perceived attractiveness” is prohibited. As is making “lewd or explicit comments” about someone’s sexuality or appearance.
According to Twitch, it’s making these changes now because people “continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online.” The new policies reportedly took months of research with consultation from experts and the site’s controversial Safety Advisory Council.
ADL commends today's announcement from @Twitch to make the platform safer for its users. While this is a welcome move, we continue to urge the platform to provide proper transparency as to better gauge the effectiveness and enforcement of these updates. https://t.co/vyoAxgPBDb
— ADL (@ADL) December 9, 2020
The ADL praised the changes. David L. Sifry, VP of ADL’s Center for Technology and Society issued a statement saying: “ADL appreciated the opportunity to provide input as part of Twitch’s update process, and we are encouraged by the company’s efforts to make its hate and harassment policies clearer and more comprehensive. By articulating how the company intends to address hate, harassment, and extremism on its platform, Twitch can provide a safer and more equitable environment for all users.”
However, the ADL also urged Twitch to release data on hate and harassment on the platform, claiming Twitch is one of the few major social media platforms to not provide a transparency report.
They are set to take effect on January 22, 2021, but only content created on or after that date will be evaluated under the guidelines.