Streamers suffer ‘hate raids’ while the company counts grands. It’s time to take a break: #adayofftwitch combats hatred behaviors.
By Terenzio Battistelli / Contributor
Hate raids are invading the Amazon-acquired platform and streamers face constant harassment without any kind of protection. Where is Twitch?
I have always thought of Twitch as a place of freedom and inclusivity, a platform where you log in at the end of a very challenging day watching your favorite game or listening to your favorite streamer. This isn’t just for viewers like me who enjoy hours and hours of streaming content every day, but especially for those that made out of Twitch their job. Streamers should see on Twitch a social space where they freely express themselves and be themselves.
But unfortunately, something or someone is giving them a hard time.
In the last month, an unpleasant phenomenon called “hate raids” has gained a dreadful popularity. Basically, Twitch channels can host other channels with their viewers. This action is called “raid” and, ideally, should work as an act of generosity to promote and discover other users on the platform. But, as the name suggests, “hate raids” does not serve this purpose. In this unfortunate case, the targeted streamer’s chat is overwhelmed by bots (fake accounts) that spam hateful and insulting messages towards the streamer.
The streamers who suffer the most from this storm of negative comments are black and LGBTQ+ streamers, like Daniel “Simooligan” Larsh, a gay man who faces frequent harassment. Daniel has been massively assaulted, so much that he has decided to quit streaming in order to preserve his own mental health and to protect his closest people.
“If you search my username on Twitch, a whole bunch of accounts come up that trolls made, and some of those accounts use [personal information],” said Larsh. “Sometimes they would target my friends as well, so my stream became a liability. People started to become afraid to come to my stream, and so eventually I had to give it up.”
Other streamers have experienced similar threats. RekItRaven, who uses they/them pronouns, has been constantly doxed by people the in chat who shared their personal information. “I’m in a situation where I really, genuinely need to protect myself and my family,” they admitted. To make things better, Raven has started a petition to improve safety and protections among LGBTQ+ streamers on Twitch.
Just from these two examples we should have this seriousness of this issue clear in our mind, but Twitch does not seem to notice it. Most of the streamers who suffer from hate raids have a small community: the smaller the interaction, the less engagement on the platform. Since Twitch is a platform that relies on big streams of people, it tends to focus more on big channels and monetization rather than prevent small streamers from harassment. Just looking at the graph below will give us a hint of the difference of viewership between big and small streamers.
From the data streamer expert Zach Bussey posts, Twitch conclusion here seems to be: no audience, then no consideration from the platform.
“It’s all about the numbers,” said Larsh. “That’s what it comes down to. I’m just a number.”
This streaming service doesn’t seem to take this issue seriously, but we can. Let’s spread awareness on social media in order to create a safe social space for everyone.
Streamers and viewers are on the same side against hate raids. Together they have sent a message of protest to Twitch, calling out for new measures that may be soon implemented
Twenty-four hours of strike to raise awareness about the issue of hate raids. This is the aim of #ADayOffTwitch, a hashtag that in a few days has become a popular Twitter trend. We have previously talked about the phenomenon of hate raids here in the blog, and something seems to be happening.
Lately, “hate raids” have become so dangerously frequent that a group of streamers have organized “A Day Off Twitch.” During the targeted day, Sept. 1, viewers and creators have been encouraged to not log into the platform in order to send a straightforward message to Twitch. This protest was aimed at highlighting an issue that has been overshadowed for a long time.
And, according to analytics, they achieved their goal.
On Sept. 1, viewership and streamership have dropped by a 5 % to 15% compared to the week before, according to a study conducted by Gamesight, a gaming analytics company. Despite additional factors that may have contributed to this dip, like the shift of popular streamers from Twitch to YouTube Gaming and the reopening of schools in the US, the #ADayOffTwitch has still had an impact on the platform.
Now that streamers have raised their voce, will Twitch listen to them? What kind of measure will the platform implement?
Well, Twitch guidelines have always been vague and unclear, and the platform doesn’t really have tools to prevent “hate raids.” Twitch suggests streamers to “protect themselves from potential abuse of the raids feature by choosing to only accept raids from friends, teammates, and channels they follow,” but this won’t stop the harassments. Raids are just one of the many means used by the perpetrators to attack their victims; threatening phone calls, trolling messages, twitter accounts that publicize personal information have to be added to the list of harassments as well.
However, in the last month or so, Twitch has begun to take some action by suing and banning many users who were conducting hate raids. The platform has also affirmed that it will implement new means to fight the plague of hate raids like a phone verification chat control.
Let’s hope that these new measures will end the trend of harassment against black and LGBTQ+ streamers. As a daily consumer of live streaming, I don’t want to be part of a platform that allows this kind of conduct. It’s time to get rid of these unacceptable behaviors.