Late last month, the Twitch game category section dedicated to embattled Valve card game Artifact briefly rocketed back into relevance. That was almost entirely thanks to the concerted efforts of trolls, who created dummy channels and violated the heck out of Twitch’s terms of service with broadcasts that included anime, porn, and anime porn. Twitch put the kibosh on this in the following days by implementing new security measures. Now, for good measure, the platform is suing people who participated.
Late last week, Twitch filed a legal complaint (via Bloomberg) against the anonymous trolls behind the Great Artifact Porn Explosion Of 2019, whom the complaint refers to as “John and Jane Does 1-100.” The suit targets these people—who Twitch hopes to identify at a later date—specifically for streaming content that included “hard-core pornography, racist and misogynistic videos, copyrighted movies and television shows, and videos depicting violence, including videos of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack.” The trolls did this, says Twitch, by coordinating their efforts on platforms like Discord and using bots to evade takedowns.
All of these actions violate Twitch’s terms of service, which Twitch believes constitute “valid, enforceable contracts between Twitch and each of the Defendants.” So, in short, these streamers breached their contracts and, in misrepresenting their identities on the site, committed fraud. Twitch also takes issue with streamers using Twitch-branded art and graphics to promote some of these streams, declaring it a trademark infringement. The company has requested that all involved be legally barred from using Twitch, which would include a ban on posting “violent, pornographic, or offensive content” on Twitch, creating or using Twitch bots, using trademarked Twitch graphics, and assisting anybody else in doing those things. The platform is seeking a reward “of restitution and damages, including, but not limited to, enhanced, liquidated, compensatory, special, statutory and punitive damages, and all other damages permitted by law.”
Legal complaints are generally opening salvos in which legal teams’ best bet is to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Also, the defendants are currently unknown, so Twitch still has some legwork to do on that front. If nothing else, however, filing this complaint does make a statement that might serve to frighten off some of the streamers who still upload these sorts of materials to other Twitch sections, like “Just Chatting.”
As for Artifact, the game’s Twitch section currently has about 100 viewers spread across seven streams. Of those, four—more than half—are actually dedicated to Artifact. Three, meanwhile, are blatant troll streams. So, an extremely small handful of people are still at it, for some reason. At this point, they might want to reconsider.