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Twitch bans users for off-line antics

by on09 April 2021

Hate-group membership

Live-streaming service Twitch will ban users for offences such as hate-group membership or credible threats of mass violence that occur entirely away from the site, in a new approach to moderating the platform.

The Amazon-owned platform, which is popular among video gamers, said under its new rules it would take enforcement actions against offline offences that posed a “substantial safety risk” to its community.

It said examples of this “severe misconduct” include terrorist activities, child sexual exploitation, violent extremism, credible threats of mass violence, carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to sexual assault and threatening Twitch or its staff.

“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”, the company said in a blog post.

Major social media companies Facebook and Twitter largely focus their rules and enforcement actions on content and activity on the actual services, with exceptions for certain individuals or organisations they have designated as dangerous or violent.

Twitch previously considered off-service behaviours related to incidents on the site, such as harassment on other social media platforms. It said it had also historically acted against serious misconduct away from its service, such as when it indefinitely suspended the account of former US President Donald Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capito. Twitch said it did not have a large scale approach in the past.

The company said users will be able to report such behaviours but it may also investigate cases proactively, for instance, if there is a verified news report that a user has been arrested.

Twitch said it would rely more heavily on law enforcement in “off-service” cases and is partnering with an investigative law firm to support its internal team. It declined to name the firm.

The new standards will apply even if the target of the offline behaviours is not a Twitch user or if the perpetrator was not a user when they committed the acts. Perpetrators would also be banned from registering a Twitch account, it said.

Twitch said it would act only when there was evidence, such as screenshots, videos of off-Twitch behaviour or police filings, verified by its internal team or third-party investigators. Users who submit a large number of frivolous reports will face suspension.

The company said in cases where the behaviour happened in the distant past, users had gone through rehabilitation such as time in a jail, and they no longer presented a danger to the community, it might not take action or might reinstate users on appeal.

Last modified on 09 April 2021
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