Twitch says it will punish users for harmful offline behavior

During the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, attendees will walk past televisions showing live streams of the Twitch Interactive video service.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Twitch, Amazon’s video streaming platform primarily used by gamers to livestream their games, announced a new policy on Wednesday that will allow the company to take action against users viewing certain malicious behaviors completely offline.

The guideline represents a unique approach among social media peers at a time when the industry was under increasing pressure to introduce strict and consistent guidelines for content moderation. With lawmakers on both sides of the aisle threatening to strip online platforms of their liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, many platforms have taken steps to put stronger barriers in place on what users can post.

The new policy allows Twitch to suspend users indefinitely after a third-party investigator determines that there is strong evidence that the person has committed certain offline behaviors. These actions include deadly violence, terrorist activities, caring for children for sexual exploitation, sexual assault, or even “accomplices in non-consensual sexual activities”. It will also continue to consider offline harassment in cases where a user alleges online abuse.

Twitch said it will work with “an experienced investigative law firm” to determine the validity of claims that will be based intermittently on access to evidence from law enforcement agencies. The company said it would take no action on a user’s account until it completes its investigation and confirms evidence of wrongdoing.

The harmful offline behavior doesn’t have to involve another Twitch user to be considered a violation, a spokesperson confirmed. This is based on the notion that people who engage in this type of behavior are more likely to create security risks for the Twitch community, the spokesperson added.

Other social media platforms also take into account real-world harm caused by users on their platforms. However, Twitch’s new policy is unique in that it explicitly combats fully offline behavior and prohibits some of the types of offline behavior. For example, Facebook’s community standards prevent mass murderers and members of terrorism, hate, crime or human trafficking organizations from being present on their platforms. Twitch’s policies include other offline behaviors that may not be part of an organized criminal group, such as: B. Sexual assault.

Social media platforms typically base the majority of their enforcement efforts on harm caused by content actually posted on their services. While they can take real events into account when assessing the damage, they typically refer to posts on their own platforms as a tipping point for action.

Even when Facebook and Twitter decided to ban former President Donald Trump from their services after the January 6th Uprising in the U.S. Capitol, their reasoning was largely based on the way they said he used or used their platforms could possibly use it to encourage further violence.

Twitch’s new approach follows a broader discussion of how certain real-world events should be handled by the technology platforms. Last month, a Business Insider investigation highlighted a woman’s allegation against Dominykas Zeglaitis, a member of the so-called vlog team led by well-known vlogger David Dobrik. The nameless woman said Zeglaitis sexually assaulted her on a night she and her friends appeared in one of the group’s videos when she said she was too drunk to give consent. Zeglaitis declined to comment on the allegations to Insider.

Google’s YouTube said after the report it would temporarily prevent Dobrik from monetizing his account through ads. According to YouTube’s developer guidelines, behavior outside the platform, including violence or cruelty, may result in penalties, such as: B. the loss of advertising opportunities or the appearance of your videos in recommendations for users.

Although Twitch will initially tackle a handful of serious crimes, the platform is meant to be iterative. Since offline damage can be difficult to review, the company began by prioritizing categories that it thought were most damaging to its community.

Users who wish to confidentially report offline claims that fall under the Twitch Prohibited Categories can email OSIT@twitch.tv.

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