After months of controversy stemming from a perceived loophole in Twitch’s attire and sexual conduct rules, the company has created a dedicated section for pools, hot tubs, and beaches.
In a new blog post today, Twitch announced that it has created a new category: “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches.” Previously, hot tub streamers largely used the catch-all Just Chatting category, which led some streamers and viewers to accuse them of somehow breaking the rules—despite the fact that they were not actually breaking Twitch’s rules. In the blog post, Twitch clarified this.
“While we have guidelines about sexually suggestive content, being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness,” the company wrote, adding that it discourages harassment against all streamers regardless of their actions or intentions. “Under our current Nudity & Attire and Sexually Suggestive Content policies, streamers may appear in swimwear in contextually appropriate situations (at the beach, in a hot tub, for example), and we allow creative expression like body writing and body painting, provided the streamer has appropriate coverage as outlined by our attire policy.”
Twitch noted that sexually explicit content—which it defines as “pornography, sex acts, and sexual services”—is where it draws the line. It acknowledged, however, that its rules “are not as clear as they could be,” and they’ll be receiving an update “in the coming months.”
The company also addressed the recent controversy surrounding the sudden, uncommunicated demonetization of Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa’s channel, which took place earlier this week in reaction to complaints which Siragusa says came from from a single advertiser (Siragusa told Kotaku in an email that Twitch would not say which advertiser). Twitch’s post seems to dispute this characterization, instead attributing it to “the majority of our advertiser base.” Siragusa, however, was not alone. Sources have since told Kotaku that a number of streamers had advertising removed from their channels, though it seems that not all of them noticed or said anything publicly. This has alarmed Twitch streamers, who are now in the dark as to what’s considered advertiser-friendly content and what’s not—meaning they, too, are at risk of suddenly not being able to make money off Twitch ads anymore. In the blog post, Twitch did not do much to assuage their fears, but it did confirm that demonetization is a thing that can happen now.
“On Twitch, brands get to decide where and when their ads appear,” the company wrote. “Today, they can target or avoid specific categories of content and flag channels that don’t meet their standards. This means that Twitch, in rare cases, will suspend advertising on a channel at the advertisers’ request. We absolutely do not permit brands to use protected characteristics as a filter for advertising targeting or blocking.”
Twitch went on to acknowledge that, in the case of Siragusa and others, it made a mistake.
“We recently suspended advertising on some channels that were flagged by the majority of our advertiser base and failed to notify them,” the company wrote. “Our creators rely on us, and we should have alerted affected streamers to this change before it happened–it was a mistake not to do so. We’re working with individual creators to address their specific situations and restore ads where appropriate.”
To remedy this and other issues, Twitch said it’s “working to develop more robust controls for advertisers and viewers to enable them to control their experiences on our service.” It’s also working on figuring out how to communicate to streamers what exactly “brand safe” means, but this functionality will apparently “take time to build and implement.”
The new Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches category is, Twitch explained, not a long-term solution to these issues. Rather, it’s intended to get the beach ball rolling on addressing streamers’ and viewers’ complaints.
“Creators can continue to stream content that falls into this category as long as it doesn’t violate our guidelines,” Twitch wrote. “Viewers can better avoid recommendations for content that they don’t want to see, and those wishing to view this content will have an easier time finding it. And brands can either opt-in or -out of this category based on whether it aligns with their target audiences, like they can today with any other category.”