What does swatted mean? The dangerous crime targeting Twitch streamers

Emma Hill
IShowSpeed being swatted on stream with armed police officersYouTube: IShowSpeed/ Unsplash: Pierre Herman

Streamers IShowSpeed, Adin Ross and xQc are just a few of many content creators to have been ‘swatted’ during their livestreams. But, what does ‘swatted’ mean and why is it a trend to target Twitch streamers? Here’s everything you need to know.

Being in the public eye as a big-name streamer certainly has its benefits. However, more and more influencers are having their safety put at risk by internet trolls.

Some streamers have had their personal information leaked across the internet by doxxers. Others have been left terrified after their homes have been invaded by stalkers.

One of the most serious crimes however, which is worryingly on the rise among the streaming community, is ‘swatting’. Here’s why it is so dangerous.

What is Swatting?

On August 8, YouTuber IShowSpeed was handcuffed by police officers after his home was swatted in the middle of his livestream. It came less than a day after popular Twitch streamer Adin Ross was similarly swatted live on air, with armed police entering his home, and was understandably traumatized by the experience.

Being ‘swatted’ first requires a troll to find a streamer’s address or location. They then make a hoax phone call to emergency services and falsely alert them to some kind of extreme violence at the creator’s address, hoping to prompt an armed response – hence the ‘SWAT’ team part of the name.

As a result, a streamer can suddenly find their home being raided by police officers carrying guns, often believing they are about to find a grisly crime scene, not a streamer playing games. Twitch streamers are targeted because it means the troll can watch the action unfold on stream in front of thousands.

xQc streaming on TwitchTwitch: xQc
Twitch star xQc revealed that he regularly changes location to avoid being swatted following numerous incidents.

Countless streamers have been victims of swatting, most notably xQc, Amouranth, Summit1g, Pokimane, and Ice Poseidon.

Punishment for swatting

While some label swatting as prank, it is a dangerous crime that puts a streamer’s life and their loved ones at serious risk. Not to mention being a complete waste of the emergency services’ time, that could otherwise be used to deal with real life-threatening situations.

In one high-profile instance, a Call of Duty player swatted an opponent after losing a match. Police showed up to a different address, and shot and killed a man totally uninvolved in the situation.

The swatter responsible for this hoax call and many others, Tyler Bariss, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Twitch as well as the emergency services have issued numerous statements condemning the act and produced instructions on how influencers can help to protect themselves. Yet, streamers being swatted on a regular basis worryingly continues.

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