Even if you haven’t heard of Twitch streamer and speedrunner Trihex, you’ve almost certainly seen him. He’s the face of the near-ubiquitous “Trihard” emote, a chat icon people use both in good fun and, unfortunately, to mock people of color. As of now, while the emote remains on Twitch, Trihex himself has been temporarily banned.
Over the weekend, Trihex’s Twitch channel got banned. While Twitch doesn’t comment on bans, Trihex allegedly drew Twitch’s ire when he called a friend who was in the same room as him a “f****t,” which is against Twitch’s rules. He was banned less than 24 hours later. After the banhammer fell, Trihex acknowledged his insensitive word choice in a post on Twitter.
“Last night, I said a word of derogatory nature,” he wrote on Saturday. “In my past, I frequented portions of the internet & chat rooms where such language was normalized. Since then, I understand that such word(s) is harmful and not okay. I apologize for my poor behavior and to anyone who is offended. I never intend to demean any person of marginalization.”
He also said that he plans to do everything in his power to “stop usage” of those words “myself as well as within my community.”
As of now, it’s uncertain how long he’ll remain banned, but other streamers have previously been exiled from Twitch for as many as 30 days for similar infractions, even when it was their first violation.
While some of Trihex’s fans have said they appreciate his frank apology, others feel like the ban isn’t entirely fair. They point to the fact that Trihex is a chill, generally kindhearted streamer who doesn’t walk the line in the same way as others who’ve been banned for slurs or other poor linguistic choices in the past. A vocal contingent has latched onto the case of another, much rowdier streamer named Reckful, who recently went on an extended rant about how, if somebody got in his face, he’d “hire ten people to kill your entire fucking family.” They’ve taken to questioning Twitch’s priorities, given that Trihex said an admittedly shitty word and apologized but remains banned, while Reckful has, thus far, suffered no consequences for making frightening threats.
This is far from the first time Twitch has received criticism for inconsistency in moderation, with users accusing the company of favoritism on a regular basis. Some of this thinking is conspiratorial, but in other cases, the roots of it, at least, are hard to ignore. Streamers like Ninja have received slaps on the wrist for language and actions that almost certainly would’ve incurred more severe consequences for other streamers. Twitch has also struggled to define and consistently enforce rules surrounding harassment and sexual content, which has led to female streamers receiving undue hate just for existing on the platform.
For now, though, Trihex is taking his ban on the chin—something that’s harder than you’d think on a platform where thousands of fans are happy to line up to support even your biggest gaffes but, if you decide to challenge their preconceived notions, they might just go watch somebody else.
“I’m gonna use this time to reflect & reform,” he wrote. “See you all soon.”
Update—10/9/2018 10:00 AM: Trihex responded to Kotaku’s request for comment, explaining that he said the word during a Super Mario Party stream with his friends. They were giving each other shit for entertainment value, but he still feels like he crossed a line. “I was eager to lash back at him,” he said via email of a friend who’d been yelling at him. “I regret it and definitely don’t think it was justified to say. Once it happened, I immediately apologized to the stream. And then apologized a second time at the end of the stream, elaborating how I don’t normally use that language, but the peak of the salt got to me.”
He also explained his approach to language on his streams and how it’s changed over the years, saying that he came up in online gaming communities where edgy trash talk was a means of rattling other teams in games like Halo 3, but then he got more involved in speedrunning and streaming and began to see how his words could impact other people.
“I’d say I cleaned my vocabulary palette after attending my first TwitchCon in 2015 and meeting my first pair of parents with their young son who all watched me—it shocked me to see that visualization of families that watch me together,” he said. “It prompted me to do better and just try to be a more positive person and bring less anger or edgy cursing to my stream.”
At this point, he tries to avoid slurs and other hurtful words like the “R-bomb, the other F-bomb, and A-bomb.”
“As someone who was bullied in middle school and high school, I understand the trauma that isolation can cause,” he said of the way words can be used to ostracize people. “As someone who went to a southern high school who saw gay students get ridiculed for nothing more than their sexuality by toxic peers, I felt that. There are real people who can be hurt by those words and slurs and communication can never be undone.”
Even with all that understanding under his belt, though, he still dropped a homophobic slur on stream. He thinks it’s important to own that.
“Ultimately, the word shouldn’t have been said,” he said. “Own up to what you did, apologize for it, and let your actions here onward determine your judgement from others—especially those you affected. That’s my plan, at least.”