Earlier this week, the Twitch category for Valve’s card game Artifact made a miraculous resurgence—but not for the right reasons. A horde of slavering meme lords were laying siege to Artifact’s abandoned e-fortress, flooding the Twitch category with streams of other games, jokes, porn, and in one especially ugly moment, a recording of the Christchurch massacre. This instance of what appeared to be a coordinated effort has inspired Twitch to make some changes.
Twitch’s initial reaction to the barrage was to temporarily prevent all new Twitch users from being able to stream anything at all. Now the platform has once again enabled that functionality, but with a caveat: new streamers are required to set up two-factor authentication via an app or text messages on their phones. Twitch apparently found that many of the offending accounts had taken advantage of loopholes in the system, which is likely why the platform rolled out this change. “Our investigations uncovered that the majority of accounts that shared and viewed the content were automated accounts,” Twitch said in a statement sent to Kotaku earlier this week.
Other changes are also on the way.
“We take what happened very seriously and are making additional changes to prevent this kind of coordinated activity on our service in the future,” reads a message posted by the official Twitch Twitter account. “Thank you all for your patience.”
In the meantime, Twitch’s Artifact page is looking far less like the incomprehensible nightmares of a computer getting forced to instantly download everything that’s ever been posted on 4chan and 8chan. Earlier this week, tens and sometimes hundreds of channels were spewing meme garbage to around 10,000 concurrent viewers at any given moment.
As of this writing, there are now around 20 channels in the section streaming to just over 400 concurrent viewers. And while at least half of those channels are definitely trying to meme, it seems like Twitch is deleting them pretty quickly—though, oddly, not much more quickly than it was when this trend was at its peak. But then, Twitch probably doesn’t need to rush on that, given that people weren’t able to replace old banned accounts with new ones for a while, and now, creating new accounts is mildly inconvenient. Plus, Twitch is now obtaining phone numbers via two-factor authentication, meaning it can probably ban associated accounts as well. Also, let’s not forget that trolls tend to get bored in a hurry, so some of them probably just moved on of their own accord. So that seems like the end of that. If only Twitch would make a habit of plugging other loopholes so effectively.