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Twitch says it will penalize users for malicious offline behavior



Participants walk past TVs showing live streams of Twitch Interactics video service during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Twitch, the Amazon-owned video streaming platform used primarily by gamers to stream their games, announced a new policy on Wednesday that allows the company to take action against users who view certain malicious entries completely offline.

The policy represents a unique approach among peers on social media at a time when the industry has been under increasing pressure to introduce strong and consistent guidelines for content moderation. As lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have threatened to remove online platforms for their liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, many platforms have taken steps to place stronger railings on what users can post.

Under the new policy, Twitch can suspend users for an indefinite period of time after a third-party investigator determines that there is strong evidence that the person has engaged in certain offline behavior. These acts include engaging in lethal violence, terrorist activities, sexually abusing children, committing sexual abuse, or even “acting as an accomplice to non-consent sexual activities.”

; It will also continue to consider offline harassment in cases where a user alleges abuse online.

Twitch said it will work with “an experienced investigation firm” to determine the validity of claims, which will at times rely on access to evidence from law enforcement. The company said it would not take action against a user’s account until it closed the investigation and confirmed evidence of wrongdoing.

The malicious offline behavior does not have to involve another Twitch user to be considered a violation, a spokesperson confirmed. It is based on the notion that people who engage in this type of behavior are more likely to pose a security risk to the Twitch community, the spokesman added.

Other social media platforms also take into account real-world damage propagated by users on their platforms, but Twitch’s new policy is unique in its explicitness in tackling completely offline behavior and in some of the types of offline behavior it prohibits. For example, Facebook’s community standards prevent mass murderers and members of terrorist, hate, criminal or human trafficking organizations from having any presence on their platforms. Twitch’s policy covers other offline conduct that may not be part of an organized criminal group, such as committing sexual assault.

Social media platforms tend to base the majority of their enforcement actions on harm caused by content that is actually posted on their services. Although they can take real-world events into account when assessing the damage, they will usually point to posts on their own platforms as the tipping point for action.

Even when Facebook and Twitter each decided to ban former President Donald Trump from his posts following the uprising on January 6, the rationale was fundamentally rooted in the ways they said he used or could potentially use their platforms to incite. further violence. .

Twitch’s new approach comes in the wake of a broader discussion of how certain real events should be handled by technology platforms. Last month, a Business Insider investigation highlighted a woman’s accusation against Dominykas Zeglaitis, a member of the so-called Vlog Squad, led by the popular vlogger David Dobrik. The unnamed woman said Zeglaitis sexually assaulted her one night when she and her friends appeared in one of the group’s videos, when she said she was too drunk to give consent. Zeglaitis declined to comment on Insider’s allegations.

Google-owned YouTube said after the report that it would temporarily prevent Dobrik from monetizing his account through ads. YouTube’s creators’ policy states that off-platform behavior, including violence or cruelty, may result in penalties, such as losing marketing opportunities or having their videos displayed in recommendations to users.

Although Twitch will initially deal with a handful of listed serious offenses, the platform said it aims for the guidelines to be iterative. Since offline harm can be difficult to verify, the company first prioritizes categories that they felt would be most harmful to society.

Users who wish to confidentially report offline damage that falls into the categories prohibited by Twitch can send an email to OSIT@twitch.tv.

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SE: The big, messy business with content moderation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube


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