In a recent Washington Post article, Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch said it is working on making ban notification emails, an ongoing issue for content creators, more transparent and concise. One option under consideration is the inclusion of clips in enforcement emails, though the concept is still a work in progress.
Whenever a streamer breaks Twitch’s terms of service, they receive an email notifying them of the community rules they violated and are banned from the platform for a varying period of time. Though most cases of streamers breaking TOS are warranted, some instances of infractions are vague, leading streamers in the dark for a period of time on the particulars for why they were banned.
In a recent community update blog, Twitch announced two new products to the service to help report streams that violate TOS as well as an appeals portal for streamers to plead their case against bans they deem unfair. Though, as Washington Post reporter and former Kotaku staffer Nathan Grayson said, revenue lost from a reflux of subscribers during a Twitch ban is crucial no matter the length, especially for creators who stream as their primary source of income.
In an effort to bring clarity to ban notifications, Angela Hession, Twitch VP of trust and safety, told Washington Post that the platform is working on creating suspension emails that include clips of violations.
“Safety is a journey, and this is a number-one ask from our community. So we’re looking at how we can attach more details for people to understand—like the video itself. That’s something we’re definitely working on,” Hession told the Washington Post.
This isn’t the first time this solution has been raised. In fact, it was addressed in an FAQ in the aforementioned community update.
“We’re still working on including clips in enforcement emails, and plan to provide an update as soon as it’s ready. We’re sorry it’s taking a while,” Twitch said in the blog. “It’s very complex to build in a scalable way that still respects user privacy—and user privacy is important to get right.”
Cypheroftyr, a partnered Twitch Streamer, told Kotaku that related clips accompanying enforcement emails would be a step in the right direction to not only show streamers why they were banned, but to provide better context for when they submit appeals.
While Twitch states that maintaining checks and balances is at the forefront of its business model, the guidelines themselves have been poorly defined for streamers. For example, socialist political commentator Hasan “Hasanabi” Piker was banned last year for saying the word “cracker” on stream.
“The words cracker, incel, and other words that are given more weight than actual slurs need to be removed,” Cypheroftyr said. “No one has been lynched or died after being called a cracker; or incel. But plenty of Black folks have died or been harassed after or while being called n*ggers, porch monkeys etc.”
Cypheroftyr told Kotaku that Twitch must ensure bad actors who are banned for malicious hate speech aren’t able to watch broadcasts from streamers from marginalized communities.
Twitch ended the blog by asking users to share their thoughts and suggestions to UserVoice, the platform’s feedback forum.
Twitch recently posted a blog pertaining to its sexual content policy, where the platform aimed to better define restrictions and exceptions for suggestive content. You can read Twitch’s policy in full here.
While these efforts and communication from Twitch are great to clarify, its rules in other areas like, sexually suggestive content, are still unclear. One clarification on what Twitch deemed as sexually suggestive content includes posting, displaying, or sharing erotica, including detailed descriptions of sex acts or pornography. Streamer Abelina Sabrina was on the receiving end of this policy when she was banned from Twitch for three days, seven minutes, and 13 seconds for reading Ice Planet Honeymoon, a smutty sci-fi romance novel, on stream.
“The stream was not meant and was not perceived as ‘sexually suggestive,’ which most people understood while watching,” Sabrina told Kotaku.
Although Sabrina has nothing against big streamers who create content under ASMR and hot tub categories with the intention of being sexually suggestive, she said TOS violations are delineated unevenly to smaller streamers.
“These larger streamers bring in a lot more viewership as well as money to Twitch, so I believe that is a deciding factor in whether or not Twitch chooses to hold them to the TOS they more frequently hold smaller streamers to,” she said. “It seems to me that Twitch selectively prioritizes profits over their own TOS which needs a re-eval anyway.”