Twitch revises community guidelines in crackdown on sexual content and harassment


Streaming platform Twitch has revised its community guidelines, in a bid to eliminate inappropriate sexual content and cut down on harassment.

In a post on Twitch’s blog, the company says: “Over the past several months, you’ve told us certain sections of our Community Guidelines were not clear enough, or, in some cases, not strong enough to govern this ever-changing landscape. And we were too slow to act. To begin addressing this, we’re rolling out a series of updates to the policies, moderation processes, and products that guide interpersonal interaction on Twitch.”

It goes on to add: “Today’s update focuses on our anti-harassment and sexual content policies. Our goal is to increase clarity, strength, and consistency across our entire moderation framework, as well as the frequency and level of detail of our moderation communications.”

Addressing the subject of harassment on Twitch, it goes into specifics: “First, conduct we deem to be hateful will result in an immediate indefinite suspension. Hate simply has no place in the Twitch community. Additionally, we will now consider verifiable hateful or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch when making moderation decisions for actions that occur on Twitch. If you use other services to direct hate or harassment towards someone on Twitch, we will consider it a violation of Twitch’s policies. We are also updating our moderation framework to pay close attention to the context and intent in addition to the words or actions used. Please remember, even if you’re just joking with your friends, you’re still choosing to stream on a service that reaches a large audience.”

And as regards inappropriate sexual content, it has this to say: “We’re updating our moderation framework to review your conduct in its entirety when evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive. We’ll be looking at contextual elements such as the stream title, camera angles, emotes, panels, attire, overlays, and chat moderation. Offering access to prohibited sexual content such as “lewds” on Twitch remains prohibited.”

The Twitch community has developed an ugly reputation for directing abuse and harassment at female streamers, particularly if they are deemed to be wearing revealing clothing. The new guidelines are clearly designed to address that, as well as generally inappropriate and aggressive behaviour and comments, which render the hugely popular home of game-streaming intimidating for many. Twitch clearly hopes that by adopting a zero-tolerance policy applying not just to Twitch but other platforms on which people can comment about Twitch streamers, it can improve the image of Twitch as a whole. Twitch trolls: you have been warned.

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Steve Boxer
Steve Boxer has been writing about videogames since the early 1990s. His first console was an Atari VCS, and he misspent most of his youth in the 1980s in the arcades. As well as for Green Man Gaming, he can be found writing for The Guardian, Empire, TechRadar and Pocket-Lint. He’s currently having trouble deciding whether his favourite console is his Xbox One X or his Switch, and plays a wide range of games, but especially RPGs (he loves a good JRPG) action-adventure titles, shooters of all descriptions and driving games. Follow him here.