Twitch forms a ‘safety council’ to promote healthy streaming habits and protect marginalized groups

    
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Twitch forms a ‘safety council’ to promote healthy streaming habits and protect marginalized groups

Twitch wants you to know it cares. No, really, it does. Why else would it announce a Safety Advisory Council whose sole purpose is to make the streaming platform a safer place for everyone? They care for you. Can’t you feel that warm, digital hug? Oh yes.

The duties of this new council will focus primarily on advising Twitch on things like “drafting new policies and policy updates, developing products and features to improve safety and moderation, promoting healthy streaming and work-life balance habits, protecting the interests of marginalized groups,” and “identifying emerging trends that could impact the Twitch experience.”

The council is composed of a group of “online safety experts” who have been “carefully selected based on their familiarity with the Twitch community and their relevant personal and professional experiences.” This includes various professors, directors of research centers focused on cyberbullying, “radicalizing” content, and inclusion, and several positive-leaning streamers such as CohhCarnage, Cupahnoodle, and FerociouslySteph.

“The creation of the Safety Advisory Council is just one way we are enhancing our approach to issues of trust and safety,” promises the announcement. “We will continue to invest in tools, products, and policies that promote the safety and well-being of everyone on Twitch.”

There do appear to be a few holes in Twitch’s logic here: One of the members is the director of the Center For Democracy and Technology, which is funded by the Koch family, Facebook, and Twitch owner Amazon, along with a variety of corporate backers. Meanwhile, streamer member CohhCarnage spent 2,000 consecutive days streaming for a portion of each day at one point, though the experience definitely changed his outlook on being a full-time streamer.

Update 5/20/2020
Kotaku has penned a follow-up piece covering the situation in detail, including the harassment campaign being waged against one particular female member of the advisory group and how Twitch is failing the community with its poor communication.

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dreamer

Twitch would be a better, safe place if they would just learn to apply their rules equally and consistently. What’s really needed is to purge their team of the arbitrary crusaders who apply the rules only when it suits them.

hurbster
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hurbster

Interesting choices there. Isn’t Steph the one who called gamers ‘white supremacists’?

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Arktouros

Yep.

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Alexus Yanova

Yes, she is the person who singles out particular race and genders and makes irrelevant statements instead of promoting acceptance and tolerance of all races and genders by encouraging people to not focus on the way other people’s voice sounds through voice chat and not assume anyone’s gender or race based on the way their voice sounds. Or encouraging people to not be afraid of who they are and how their voice sounds like and encourage them to continue using voice chat and actively report any toxic player who dislikes your voice or who dislikes your gender or ethnicity.

She is doing much more harm to marginalized groups than any benefits through her statements, including perpetuating the false stereotypes that people of certain groups “just like to complain about everything for the sake of complaining”. And Twitch selecting her would do even more harm since doing this promotes her personal views. Too bad a lot of narrow-minded people who defend her fail to see the reality of situation.

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Utakata

…and the gomers must just love her for that. Thanking her for “proving” their “point”, desu. /monkaS

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Apparently what she actually said was, “Someone thinks I’m, like, super racist against white people. No! I’m just not cool with white supremacy, y’all. I think a lot of you gamers are actually white supremacists.” She later followed it up by saying, “I have never and will never say most gamers are white supremacists.”

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Brazen Bondar

I rarely enter these types of discussions on blogs but maybe the ‘shelter-in-place’ rules are affecting judgment so….
Twitch’s initiative will probably not succeed for a host of reasons not the least of which is when a corporation starts these types of initiatives it’s usually a kind of feel good move. They rarely understand or are committed to examining the complexity of harassment online. However, the probable success of the initiative should not be conflated with the need for Twitch to address these issues. The corporation wants to make as much money as it can and right now there are sizable populations that cannot use its platform safely. In order to monetize those excluded groups Twitch needs to think about safe environments. It’s fine to think its care bear behavior but unless you are in a marginalized group (of which the gaming world has many!) it may be difficult to understand what it is like to live with ongoing death threats, stalking and other forms of harassment.
Final words….hope Twitch finds a path although this one probably isn’t it, but it is a start.

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Utakata

Thank you for sharing that. /bows

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Bruno Brito

It’s a great start. I just don’t think they’ll be able to finish it.

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Dankey Kang

I’m sure this will make all the difference.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah this has been off to a great start so far with one of the members. I really don’t understand why corporate/companies will often do stunts like this and then have a token diversity representative who easily becomes unhinged and follows radical activist rhetoric which always leads to some degree of drama and backlash. Really a poor way to appear “woke” and get the silent majority of people within that diversity group pissed off since it just leads to damaging the group image and poorly representing them as regular human beings.

Cohh seems to basically be their main neutral guy that many will recognize and feel some level of comfort knowing he’s on the council. But this really just seems like it’s setting up scapegoats for whenever Twitch makes stupid/inconsistent decisions regarding bans and so on.

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NeoWolf

I think COhh’s comments on it last night were pretty on point with regard to what he hopes to bring to the table and wants to achieve. He has his head screwed on right as they say.
I dare say the Alinity’s and Amouranths etc.. of the world will be getting nervous because it will mean no more “special” treatment for them lol

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Sorenthaz

Yeah Cohh seems to be the voice of reason. I’ve heard that at least Ziz (or whatever his name is) is also on a similar boat to Cohh where they seem to genuinely want their position to matter and make changes for the better on Twitch.

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

Everyone wants to be seen as being a good corporate citizen and doing the right thing these days. Given the cack-handed way Twitch can’t even get its existing policies right, however, I wouldn’t put much stock in this beyond it being a puff piece, “Look at us, we care…” sort of thing.

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John Kiser

Yeah that’s the thing they need to realize more than anything. No matter the policy you have you need to apply it universally and evenly toward everyone. No one getting special treatment just because they are bigger etc. Their current policy would be fine as is if they you know actually enforced it properly.

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Axetwin .

Looking at the comments here tells you exactly all you need to know about how well this will be absorbed by a community of people that refuse to mature past the age of 13.

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Utakata

Good for them! I hope they’re honest about it though.

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Utakata

“Care to elaborate, Uta.”

…I share the sentiment with likely many others here (or least the ones that are being forthright about this) that I don’t entirely trust Twitch’s sincerity on this. As they are company that is about making money. So this doesn’t sit right as far as my conflict theory tingles are concerned.

However and perhaps, this is where some good can come out of this in doing this to expand their bottom line. So in the sense of self preservation, they are doing something that targets and considers a larger audience. So I guess this is where I say, more power to them if it ends up benefiting everyone save the likely minority self-proclaimed edgelords – sorry dudes, you may have become expendable in this. So this is not entirely a bad thing, IMO.

…not that anyone is paying attention to my elaboration on a Saturday afternoon the day after this article was posted. >.<

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NeoWolf

Considering Twitch’s stance up until now it would’t surprise me at all if this didn’t amount to anything more than PR stunt to make it “seem” like they are serious about ensuring everyone is held to the same standards all the while changing nothing.

I guess only time will tell, I know some on the council like COhh have the same concerns too as they have said as much. Like he said congratulate us if something changes for the better, until then this is essentially meaningless.

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Utakata

It is entirely reasonable to remain skeptical here.

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elenie

Well, sounds like this might not go much of anywhere, but I’m all for getting some standards of behaviour in place (and no, not for policing what someone is wearing, but how they treat or talk about other people) and trying to undo a bit of the -isms that are pretty pervasive.

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John Kiser

How streamers and people chatting treat one another is definitely a guideline topic that needs to be had. The problem with twitch honestly though is that they need to apply the policy properly. No more letting people slide on shit because they are big. Either apply rules and policy fairly or don’t. That said they need to really keep an eye on these people on the council and not let the toxicity some of them have form the basis of policy.

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Arktouros

The woman saying voice comms in games is non inclusive on a platform that streams video and audio of games just seems entirely out of place. Not sure what is hoped to be accomplished by this organization with a person who “vehemently opposes” the base mechanics of the platform.

Ziz is good to see however and knows what’s up. What I’m interested in is if they will actually enforce their rules equally at any point. Certain people seem to get away with anything while others are intensely scrutinized and punished for off hand comments that are mild compared to some of the things said regularly on streams. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to see rules and punishments be consistently enforced.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

if they will actually enforce their rules equally at any point

Of course not, Twitch will always operate on this principle: