Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa is one of the most popular female streamers on Twitch. As of now, she can no longer make money off ads on her channel.
Siragusa, already one of the more recognizable names on Twitch, has benefited tremendously from the so-called “hot tub meta,” in which swimsuit-clad streamers talk to their chats, play games, and perform other activities from hot tubs. This has proven controversial despite Twitch noting to Kotaku and others that it’s not against the platform’s rules. Now Twitch has taken a different, arguably more damaging sort of action against the biggest streamer to participate in the meta.
“Yesterday I was informed that Twitch has indefinitely suspended advertising on my channel,” Siragusa wrote on Twitter today. “Twitch didn’t reach out in any way whatsoever. I had to initiate the conversation after noticing, without any prior warning, all the ads revenue had disappeared from my channel analytics.”
She went on to describe the sudden, uncommunicated swiping of a tool from her money-making toolbelt as “alarming.” Twitch has theoretically always had the power to demonetize streamers as it sees fit—just like YouTube before it. Earlier this year, a cybersecurity researcher discovered that Twitch is experimenting with “brand safety score” functionality that would, as Twitch later explained, “make sure ads are appropriately matched to the right communities on Twitch.” But Twitch has never exercised its power in this way before. Siragusa noted that there is “no communicated guideline” for any of this in Twitch’s rules.
“Many people complain about [Twitch’s terms of service] being ‘unclear,’ but at least there’s something to go by,” she wrote. “There is no known policy for what results in a streamer being put on this blacklist. With characteristic opacity, the only thing Twitch made clear is that it is unclear whether or when my account can be reinstated.”
Kotaku reached out to Twitch for more information, but as of this publishing, the company did not reply.
During a stream shortly after she made the announcement, Siragusa—never one to miss an opportunity for a snarky punchline—sat in her hot tub while watching and reading other people’s reaction to her expulsion from Twitch’s ad pool. She proceeded to go into further depth as to why she finds all of this so unsettling.
“The issue isn’t Twitch removing ads. It’s them doing so without any clarification of what their guidelines are,” she said. “We saw this coming. Everyone expected it. No one expected it without communication, though. Just, like, a stealth removal.”
She also attempted to manually run an ad from her Twitch dashboard as an experiment, but when she clicked the button, nothing happened.
Siragusa expressed gratitude and relief that she has diversified her sources of income beyond Twitch over the years, as ads represent a “significant” portion of the money she makes from the Amazon-owned platform. At this point, Siragusa also makes money from Instagram, OnlyFans, YouTube, and brand sponsors, among others, but she said that some other streamers aren’t so fortunate.
“I’m lucky I’m diversified, but for people who aren’t, that’s a big portion [of their income] they could be losing.”
All of this feeds into an understandable concern: Who’s next?
“It affects more than just hot tub streamers,” she said. “It goes beyond ‘Yeah, doing something to thots!’ Like, if they continue doing this to people who aren’t ‘advertiser-friendly,’ it could affect a lot of people.”
For example, many high-profile streamers have dabbled in gambling while live. It’s not a huge leap to imagine advertisers might not love that, either. “If there’s anything advertisers hate next to porn, it’s gambling,” Siragusa said, also noting that Twitch regularly runs condom ads, suggesting that so-called “adult” subject matter is less of a problem when advertisers do it.
All of this sets a troubling precedent. For the time being, Siragusa isn’t sure exactly what she’s going to do or if she’s going to “fight” it. Her goal today was just to get the word out that “this is a thing Twitch can do and will do.”
“The main issue we’re concerned about now as partners on Twitch is Twitch doing anything to our monetization at all with no warning,” she said. “Just poof.”
Update: 5/19/21, 2:30 PM: Speaking to Kotaku, Siragusa further elaborated on the series of events leading up to the discovery that Twitch had demonetized her, as well as the extent to which it impacts her financially. In an email, she explained that prior to the removal, she had been making “over $1,000 a day” off ads due, in part, to booming business from the hot tub meta. Then it suddenly dropped to zero.
“I asked my [Twitch] partner manager why my ads were showing ‘0' after May 7th, and she initially expressed surprise as well and even introduced me to upcoming ads products that were rolling out,” Siragusa said. “After inquiring internally, it seems she came back with a prepared statement. They made clear that ads were off the table in the short term. They vaguely alluded that not all content allowed under [terms of service] is appropriate for all advertisers.”
Siragusa says she proceeded to ask one of her Twitch contacts a few follow up questions but has not heard back.
All of this took her by surprise not just because demonetization was not widely understood to be part of Twitch’s arsenal, but because “I maintain a close line of communication with my Twitch contacts, constantly asking for any color on their view of hot tub content, or even a nudge if it’s something that is potentially problematic from a moderation standpoint.” She went on to note that she was “actually assured within the last 30 days that they would pass anything along if they heard or if there is a tonal change.”
Siragusa believes that Twitch’s sudden about-face communicates “a shift in how they approach certain content in that they decided to demonetize it versus just changing the ToS,” but there’s a slim silver lining.
“I actually think that if they hold fast to this posture,” she said, “it might open the door to a more lenient ToS, as long as the creator isn’t concerned about monetizing the content.”