Streamers Hope Twitch Might Have Finally Nailed Online Harassment

New rules to play by

Key Takeaways

  • Twitch expanded its rules against hate speech and harassment to include behavior off of its platform. 
  • Streamers who are harassed off of Twitch have the opportunity to report it to the platform to hold people more accountable. 
  • Streamers are hopeful that, while relatively new, the policy will implement change—hopefully to other platforms, as well.
A view from behind a gaming streamer as they face the screen, putting their headphones on.

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Twitch is taking its harassment policy beyond its own platform, and streamers say it’s a positive step in the right direction. 

The new policy is the first of its kind to punish people harassing others on platforms outside of Twitch. While streamers haven’t seen an immediate effect of the policy, they are hopeful it will change the culture of harassing across social media. 

"It's an incredibly bold step for Twitch to codify this and to actually put it down in writing," Twitch streamer Veronica Ripley, aka Nikatine, told Lifewire over the phone. "I’ll believe it when I see it, but I have a good feeling about it."

Off-Platform Harassment 

Twitch streamers are, unfortunately, all too familiar with experiencing harassment both on and off the platform. 

"I utilize my platform to talk about social justice issues, human rights, and race issues that affect me as a Black woman in this country. That puts a target on my back, and that target carries over off-platform," Natasha Zinda, a Twitch streamer known as Zombaekillz, told Lifewire in a phone interview. 

Zinda says the harassment she experiences off Twitch directly relates to the platform, since it sometimes comes from other Twitch streamers. 

"It's an incredibly bold step for Twitch to codify this and to actually put it down in writing."

"I was harassed pretty horribly in March by people that exist on YouTube predominantly, but also have Twitch accounts—some who are Twitch partners," she said. 

"For me, the thing that shows malintent is the fact that they go to YouTube, make hate videos, upload these videos, and then they link their Twitch [account] below."

Ripley has also experienced online harassment on and off Twitch. She said she has blocked about 50,000 people on Twitter over the years. 

"I see [harassment] all the time," she said. "I’m trans, and I see a lot of anti-trans hate online. I’ll see it on Twitch, I’ll see it on Twitter, wherever I am, I’ll see it."

The First Policy of Its Kind

While Twitch started implementing the new policy in January, the company recently has become more transparent about how it carries out the rules and what constitutes off-platform harassment. 

"Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large, but it’s one we believe—and hear from you—is crucial to get right," Twitch said in its announcement last week.

Zinda said she has reported to Twitch around 10 instances off-platform harassment since the policy took effect at the beginning of this year, but hasn’t yet seen anything come of those complaints. 

Friends playing video games.

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However, Twitch said the categories of off-service harassment behaviors are limited. These include violent extremism, terrorist activities, explicit or credible threats of mass violence, leadership or membership in a hate group, carrying out or acting as an accomplice to non-consensual sexual activities or sexual assault, sexual exploitation of children, actions that would directly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community, and explicit or credible threats against Twitch.

Twitch added that it might take time to resolve these types of reports under the new process.

"In order to be as thorough and efficient as possible in these situations, we’re bringing on a highly regarded third-party investigative partner to support our internal team with these investigations," Twitch said.

A Hopeful Change

Ripley said that Twitch’s transparency in the process is promising.

"Most times when a tech company goes to implement a new policy, it's always pretty thin—tech companies like to be vague because they want to be able to have leeway, but actually coming out and saying that they will take action for harassment off-platform is huge," she said. 

Of all the platforms, Ripley said she feels most safe on Twitch because of its tight-knit and like-minded communities. While Twitch still isn't perfect, she said the new policy proves it cares about its users. 

Silhouette of a gaming streaming holding out a game controller with a game on screen behind them.

Nicolas Perez / Unsplash

"I've always hoped that things would be okay going forward, and now with this, I have a little bit more reassurance that they will," Ripley added. 

However, streamers want to make sure the new policy is carried out appropriately, which means holding Twitch accountable that it will follow through on taking action against off-platform harassment. 

"For marginalized creators, we don't have the financial ability to just move platforms," Zinda said. "We very much place our lives and our livelihoods in Twitch’s hands, so please step up for us."

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