The good times for Twitch are being tainted by their mismanagement of the sexual harassment of which some users of the platform have been victims.
There are several available antecedents that help to assess the seriousness of the problem, to which this week a delayed official response appeared.
How was this scandal uncovered?
Samantha Wong, a Twitch streamer known as Sampai on the platform, publicly accused having been the victim of sexual harassment by another streamer, who currently produces content for the platform’s official channel, emphasizing that the company has minimized and ignored her situation. .
An interesting rap came from Justin Wong, former vice president of Twitch, who revealed that that case was reported by himself to high authorities of the company. However, the claims were unsuccessful, because the defendant was allegedly a vice president of the company and also considered a key partner for the launch of some initiatives.
I was a VP at Twitch and I reported this to the relationship-owning VP, the head of HR, and the CEO. All assured me it would be handled. Next year he was in the same VIP space at the same Twitch event. I was told he was the VPs uncle and an important initiative launch partner. https://t.co/LvkPxW43zR
Justin Wong (@JustinWong) June 22, 2020
Emmet Shear, CEO of Twitch, came out in defense of the company and its management, sharing a message that he sent internally on the subject.
There’s been a lot of important conversation happening over the previous couple days, and I’ve heard your voices. I’d like to share the email I just sent internally to the company on the topic. pic.twitter.com/B1V34lT9EI
Emmett Shear (@eshear) June 23, 2020
Unfortunately, this accusation does not respond to an isolated event within the platform. A strong collective accusation groups more than 200 people responsible for improper behavior on a list, drawn up by a group called Survivors of the streaming industry, which has been dedicated to collecting testimonies during the last month. Among the accused, they appear from streamers with a discreet presence to others with a large number of followers and even with verified partner contracts.
This matter was a time bomb for Twitch. During the last years, the problem has been made visible in various media. Bloomberg, for example, described harassment as routine for women on the platform and Kotaku, along a similar vein, noted that it was incredibly easy to find examples of harassment by a simple search on that streaming portal.
Twitch (@Twitch) June 22, 2020
Although Twitch’s policies were toughened in 2018 on bullying, it was clearly not an effective enough measure.
Speaking of moderation in the chats of the thousands of simultaneous streams that the platform hosts, implies a difficult deployment to carry out. For the same reason, given the circumstances, it became necessary to change the initially failed preventive approach to a reactive measure.
A recent statement, released through the Twitch blog, specifies the company’s current position on the recent accusations.
As an immediate action, they indicated that they are reviewing each known case as quickly as possible, prioritizing the proceedings around the accusations considered to be more serious. Correctly accredited perpetrators as such will suffer as a consequence the permanent suspension of their account.
They also indicated that there are cases that involve alleged incidents that occurred outside the platform, justifying the need to carry out exhaustive investigations and anticipating the possibility of transferring the investigations to the corresponding authorities, if necessary.
In the publication, the invitation is extended, mainly to those affected people who are still silent, to share the pertinent information to take action, protecting their identity if they prefer.
As future actions, Twitch committed to reviewing its Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policies, improving its banned word filters and message moderation through Automod.
While this Amazon-owned video streaming service celebrates the courage of those who have recently spoken out and acknowledges the difficulties involved in moderating such large communities, it is not without a major problem. Ultimately, it is its user community that brings the platform to life.