According to some Twitch streamers, vigilante viewers are making a sport of trolling through the streaming platform’s directory and searching for broadcasters violating Twitch’s terms of service.
She Snaps was streaming to a couple hundred viewers in Twitch’s IRL section when a stranger wandered in. Chatting with her fans about mental health, She Snaps, who streams in t-shirts and hoodies, had a short back-and-forth with the viewer before he excused himself. “Alright well this has been nice but I’ve got to go,” she recalled him saying. “I’m checking out all the girls’ streams in IRL and reporting the ones that aren’t abiding by TOS.” When She Snaps asked the viewer whether they were just checking in on women’s streams, he responded no, but that he’s trying to help cleanse Twitch of cam girls.
For a year, critics have accused Twitch’s IRL section of housing so-called “cam girls” who dress in revealing clothes and do yoga, squats, dancing, et cetera with the aim of seducing potential viewers. Yes, these streamers certainly exist—but they’re a tiny minority. Regardless, there’s been a panic around so-called “sexually suggestive” Twitch channels, in part, because some viewers—and streamers—have complained that they violate the sanctity of Twitch as a gaming site.
Twitch’s recently-updated Community Guidelines nodded toward these concerns by mandating that streamers wear clothes “appropriate for a public street or restaurant.” But Twitch is also clear in those guidelines that users are not to take up the mantle of anti-boob vigilante, either: “We will not tolerate using this policy as a basis to harass streamers on or off Twitch, regardless of whether you think they’re breaking this rule,” read the guidelines.
In the weeks since the new guidelines rolled out, She Snaps said she has had new viewers come into her stream to ask about them. “They’ll make comments on my camera angle and say, ‘Good thing it’s not too high—I’d have to report you,’” she said.
Djarii, another streamer, says she’s been targeted by what she calls “Twitch Vigilantes” for as long as she can remember. Most of the time, she streams games, but on occasion, Djarii streams herself painting her body and doing her make-up to resemble characters from popular gaming franchises. It’s not against Twitch’s community guidelines—she maintains it isn’t sexually suggestive—but she isn’t wearing an everyday outfit, either. At times, she’s had up to 50 viewers drop into chat during a single stream to tell her that what she’s doing violates Twitch’s guidelines.
“A lot of the time people just want to sound like their opinion is important or that they know better than you by ‘informing’ me that what I’m doing is against terms of service (bodypaint generally), which it very well is not,” Djarii explained. “They just have the idea in their mind that bodypainting is abhorrent and Twitch absolutely must agree with them.”
Djarii said that Twitch’s citizen police don’t just drop in during body-painting streams; it even happens when she’s gaming in an oversized t-shirt. Yesterday, when she was doing her everyday makeup, she had several people come into chat to inform her that what she was doing didn’t belong on Twitch.
Twitch started as a site for streaming games. As it evolved, it expanded to include everything from people streaming themselves crocheting to social eating. There’s been instances of pushback against Twitch’s non-gaming communities, but interviews with these streamers indicate that policing Twitch’s guidelines has become somewhat of a hobby for bored ideologues.
Not every IRL streamer reached said they’d experienced it, but the majority had. Streamer Kaceytron shared chat logs with Kotaku in which one viewer who had been spamming her chat left with the message, “peace out chat leaving to troll irl camgirls.” Around the time the new Community Guidelines rolled out, Kaceytron said, “I had quite a few people tweet at me like ‘are you ready to get banned on march 5th.’”
Kaceytron likes to think they’re a “very loud minority,” but added, “The new ToS definitely put a microscope on women.”
Reached for comment, Amouranth, another Twitch IRL streamer and cosplayer—one whom Twitch’s citizen police force like to point to as proof that Twitch is ruined for gamers—responded, “Um, do they have a special badge or?”