Twitch announced a new policy on Wednesday that would punish Twitch users for behaviors that happen away from the platform itself. Twitch claims the new policy has been put in place because they believe certain off-site conduct will follow from reality to the platform and create a “safety risk to the Twitch community”.

The newly implemented policy breaks violations down to two specific categories: 1) behaviors that occur both on and off Twitch, and 2) harassment that specifically occurs off of the platform. These off-service behaviors do not need to include another Twitch user to be deemed a credible report and acted upon by the platform.

“In addition to our off-service Hateful Conduct & Harassment policy, we believe that the occurrence of severe offenses committed by Twitch users that may take place entirely off-service can create a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community. As a result, we will issue enforcements against the relevant accounts, up to an indefinite suspension on the first offense for some behaviors, which can take place offline or on other internet services, including:

  • Deadly violence and violent extremism
  • Terrorist activities or recruiting
  • Explicit and/or credible threats of mass violence (i.e. threats against a group of people, event, or location where people would gather).
  • Leadership or membership in a known hate group
  • Carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to non-consensual sexual activities and/or sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation of children, such as child grooming and solicitation/distribution of underage sexual materials
  • Actions that would directly and explicitly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community
  • Explicit and/or credible threats against Twitch, including Twitch staff”

“At this time, we’re not able to investigate behaviors that occur entirely off Twitch that fall outside these categories. This is an iterative, ongoing process, and as always, our end goal is to build a safer Twitch for everyone,” an April 7th, 2021 Twitch blog post read.

The livestreaming platform that is mostly used for gamers states in the policy: “We also recognize that toxicity and abuse can spread to Twitch from outside our services in a way that is detrimental to our community. To mitigate this harm, we will take reported off-service context into account when evaluating violations of any of our policies that occur on Twitch. If we are able to verify reports of off-service statements or behaviors that relate to an incident on Twitch, we will use this evidence to support and inform our enforcement decisions.”

The platform explained in an April 7th, 2021 blog post that for conduct off-site, they “must rely more heavily on law enforcement and other services to share relevant evidence before we can move forward.” Twitch also stated that the platform will be working in tandem with a “highly-regarded third party investigative partner” to support their internal team.

“This partner is an experienced investigations law firm that is dedicated to conducting independent workplace and campus investigations including those related to sexual discrimination or assault,” the blog post reads.

Twitch has also supplied an email address to handle “egregious, off-service misconduct in the categories above committed by a member of the Twitch community,” ensuring other users who submit claims that they will remain anonymous. Twitch users can even use the email address to report Twitch employees.

The policy details that no action will be taken against the Twitch user under investigation until after they’ve been able to confirm the users has committed a violation.

For those who Twitch and this third party investigative law firm has found guilty, the Twitch user will find themselves suspended from the platform, with different time lengths, up to indefinite suspension depending on the offense.

Twitch’s newest policy is not unlike Twitter and Facebook, who permanently banned the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump from using their platform due to real-life events and behaviors on January 6th, 2021 that weren’t even that of the President himself and without any evidence of incitement from the commander in chief directly.

Perhaps most interesting about the new policy is that Twitch will consider those who have violated the policy “in the decent past and have gone through a trusted rehabilitation process such as legally mandated time served in a correctional facility, and our investigative process determines that there is no evidence to suggest that the user would cause any clear and present danger to the community, we may decline to take action against a user or unsuspend their account based on an appeal.”

The line between online activity and reality continues to blur, with technocratic kings who rule over their online domains and platforms becoming judge, jury, and executioner and the expansion of more and more power and control over users.

Haley Kennington
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