“...a long-time industry curse that reflects wider social problems.”
August 12, 2017 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Someone Live Streamed Themselves Sexually Harassing Me by Charleyy Hodson “Last week, following a full-on day at work, and a torturous journey home through central London, I was frazzled and stressed so decided to skip my regular Breath of the Wild stream. Instead, I set up an incredibly shoddy stream in my kitchen featuring me trying to complete a 1000-piece cat puzzle with metal music in the background. It was dumb, but it was also awesome, and my regular crowd seemed to enjoy the change in pace of relaxing in the IRL category, and leaving the Bokoblins for another day. Although I’ve streamed a lot, this was the first time I had ever streamed in the IRL category. I thought there might be new viewers and oddballs popping by, but what happened next left me shocked. My channel was raided by a self-proclaimed “troll militia” with the purpose of bullying my stream, all of which was being livestreamed on their Twitch channel, with accompanying commentary.”

• Twitch yanks harassment livestream, but doesn’t ban the user who made it by Megan Farokhmanesh [The Verge]
“Twitch has removed a video featuring a Twitch user broadcasting himself harassing other streamers in real-time, following allegations published on Kotaku UK. The stream in question, titled “If I gotta slap a streamer imma make it look sexy,” targeted London-based streamer Charleyy Hodson and several others. The broadcast aired 11 days ago and remained active on user DiscordBen’s account until yesterday. The video was removed shortly after The Verge reached out to Twitch for comment — but the account in question remains active. When contacted by The Verge, a Twitch spokesperson said that the company employs a moderation team to respond to reports and act appropriately. “Harassment and raiding are issues we do not tolerate, and will use every option at our disposal to put a stop to them,” the spokesperson said. “Our policies evolve with the community to maintain this commitment, and as new forms of inappropriate behavior surface, we will continue to create best practices, onboard additional Moderators, and develop technology to address them.””
• A Gamer Channel’s Mission: Send the Trolls Packing by Laura Parker [The New York Times]
“Every week without fail, some viewers of Misscliks, a channel on the video game streaming platform Twitch, pipe up with sexist or misogynistic comments. As the channel live-streams shows where hosts engage in activities like playing the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, viewers have made comments objectifying the female hosts. Several have called the male hosts on Misscliks “pimps,” or have said how lucky they are to have a “harem” of colleagues. What sets Misscliks apart is its response to such behavior. Whenever a sexist remark pops up, the Misscliks community quickly jumps in to explain that the channel’s mission is to be a diverse space where underrepresented gamers can feel safe from harassment and bullying. Commenters who persist are given timeouts, or sometimes banned outright. “Misscliks is an example of a space grown from the ground up to model a different and less toxic environment,” said Naomi Clark, an assistant arts professor at New York University’s department of game design. “Their team deliberately set expectation and policy from the beginning to counter harassment.””
• Female gamers, no strangers to online harassment, learn ways to combat discrimination during summer camp at UCI by Alex Chan [Los Angeles Times]
““The competitive world of professional eSports is almost all male and when you see something like that, it stands out,” UCI eSports’ acting director Mark Deppe said. “We then came up with the idea of hosting a girls’ camp, which really evolved out of a need and campus desire.” According to New York-based market research firm SuperData, male viewership more than doubles female viewership on channels that stream eSports, such as Twitch and Azubu. “It’s a boys’ club,” said Stephanie Llamas, vice president of research and strategy at SuperData. “You have a lot of males who have used games to feel like a community in a way they might not have otherwise felt, and feeling like someone is intruding and feeling like it’s women is a part of that. “If women don’t feel like they can participate at the amateur level, they’re not going to be represented all the way up to the professional level.” The weeklong camp at UCI — which welcomed 17 girls in middle school, high school and colleges — included playing time in the arena and panel discussions on topics such as careers in the gaming industry, tournaments, game creation and dealing with harassment.”
• The women who make a living gaming on Twitch by Stephanie Convery [The Guardian]
“The women on Twitch don’t see themselves as pornographers or sex workers – far from it – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t audience members who feel they are owed more than witty banter and good gameplay, particularly if they are handing over cash. “The way some people treat you because you’re a woman on the internet is disgusting,” Kat says. “They think they can just give you money and expect certain things or just say something in chat and expect something – for you to take your clothes off and that sort of stuff. There are people who actually think that’s how it works.” [...] “I had one of my friends make a joke about me being a cam girl and I got really, really offended about it,” says Mia. “Not because I think there’s anything wrong with [being a cam girl], but what I am doing is very different … Like, I have a legit career as a gamer and you can’t take me seriously as a gamer? You see me on camera and all of a sudden I’m a cam girl?””
posted by Fizz (27 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Fizz at 4:22 PM on August 12 [7 favorites]


Fuck "gamer culture."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:45 PM on August 12 [25 favorites]


Love the info about Misscliks - my background is in online community, and I've been advocating the intentional and rigorous structuring of positive community rules for some time. The good bit is that the establishment of such cultures greatly empowers users to support and defend those communities. But, my understanding is, the big game companies think they will lose users - ie, the toxic ones - and thus revenue. The longer-term vision of creating a social environment that many more people want to participate in - and thus, surprise, gaining them revenue - seems beyond them. Anyway, thanks for the post and glad to hear that someone is taking action that seems meaningful and successful. Inspiring.
posted by emmet at 7:30 PM on August 12 [9 favorites]


Misscliks approach rather resembles metafilter's... I can see why it would work
posted by infini at 11:53 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


In what passes for fairness I would alter TheWhiteSkull's comment to, 'fuck troll culture'. Lots of gamers are in no way trolls. Please let us be specific. Trolls are small-souled, evil little s#!ts that we have always had but now the Internet works as a force multiplier for. There are trolls who think trolling needs to be done even while knowing that it brings no benefit. The appetite to feel power at the expense of others is in no way new and we all know that.

Twitch just provides a real time A/V format for the asshats who would normally be posting on 4chan. It serves other purposes too, but most of those are usually aproblematic. Trolls only need to be a one in two-hundred phenomena to be a huge pain in our collective necks. Given that a few will be more of whatever the hell it is we should call the urge to consciously be an utter scum-spewing turd and also seemingly sociopaths we get this dreck. Frankly we need a way to track them down and call them out. Call them out to their families, friends, employers, and to anyone who cares to avoid the toxic effluvia that runs from their troll-brains. The only real way to fight this is to shame them. Guilt is of no use. Shame is the public disapprobation and enforcement of consequences on these fools. Lifetime bans from social media sites they use to abuse others with permanent pages explaining why they were banned that use real names, if possible. We need to make being a troll so socially uncomfortable and derided that we can prove that anyone who chooses to do trolling is clearly to stupid to have Internet access.

Of course the solution is extreme, authoritarian, and leads to a whole host of more problems so...?
posted by Ignorantsavage at 12:04 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


This is deplorable, but I think there are basically two solutions:
- people divide mostly evenly between content creators and content police.
- end to anonymity on content-based internet.

The arguments against ending anonymity which mention whistleblowers and other persons who need protection don't hold much water in my opinion - they could use a proxy service, just like there are lawyers and notaries in real life who protect the identity of their client.

Metafilter and similar sites apply a (relatively) high entry threshold and intense policing, so the scumbags/trolls converge on platforms which have a marginally lower standard - much like the various levels of bars and drinking holes in real life.

One other thing that needs to be well known is a caveat to attention seekers - high rewards sometimes carry high risks and unmoderated platforms are where the liones sunt. In other words, muggings are not condoned and muggers are strictly prosecuted, but a reasonable person is still advised to avoid certain places and streets.
posted by Laotic at 12:06 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I remember when i used to follow scarlett (trans pro starcraft player) on twitch 3 or 4 years ago - the causal abuse was almost totally blocked out on her own feed because she had excellent volunteer fan moderators, but watch her play in a tournament and it was a different story because tournaments didn’t anticipate the level of abuse. That is the biggest challenge with live internet - everything happens live so you have to anticipate it before it happens and (often) it is not available afterwards. i would be interested to see how snapchat has dealt with this sort of abuse - they seem to be the experts since i almost never see it on their platform
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:41 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


In what passes for fairness I would alter TheWhiteSkull's comment to, 'fuck troll culture'. Lots of gamers are in no way trolls. Please let us be specific.

Let's be specific, indeed - not all trolls are gamers, and the form that trolling takes sides from community to community. What's under discussion here is the rot in gamer culture specifically (and not all of it is reducible to trolling - a lot of it is just flippant off-hand stuff, not concerted harassment). If you're a minority member in (online) gaming, you've probably experienced a lot of abuse and aggression, and are aware of just how commonplace abhorrent views are in the gaming community, and how much they're accepted or even expected (and yes, there will always be communities that are different, but that's no fucking help when you're queuing comp and can't pick who you're playing with/against). #notallgamers, I get it, but in being unwilling to acknowledge that there is a cultural problem with the overrepresentation of misogyny, racism, queerphobia, and antisemitism in gaming doesn't help address it. "The USA is racist" is not a particularly controversial claim, even as not all US Americans are racist. "Gaming culture is racist" is defended vociferously because... not all gamers are racist? Come off it. We don't mean you personally, but if we're to collectively deal with this problem, we need to move on from arguing and collectively acknowledge it.
posted by Dysk at 3:55 AM on August 13 [35 favorites]


end to anonymity on content-based internet

Well, there goes my internet presence. Seriously, it appalls me that people still argue for ending internet anonymity in a world where you can still legally be fired from your job for:

(a) being any sort of queer
(b) having different politics than your boss
(c) using birth control
(d) having "unsavory" interests
(e) ... and more!

And that's if you have the job. I don't use my real name because, among other things, I don't want potential employers to see that I'm outspoken politically and have strong opinions about things like workplace discrimination. Sure, my anonymity is feeble, but my pseudonymous accounts don't show up on a Google if you search for my real name.

I also don't want trolls to take their harassment offline. I might be comfortable on MetaFilter, but there are platforms where I would just have to leave.

Not to mention that many of these guys already use their real names. Ending anonymity is not going to stop them. They don't care.

Anonymity might not be that useful to you, so you don't have a visceral appreciation for protection that i gives, the space that it creates for people. Yes, anonymity is a way to protect yourself from the consequences of what you do--but sometimes those consequences aren't just. All sorts of privacy can be abused, but you don't address that by forcibly exposing everyone, including the people who are the victims. There is too much collateral damage.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:13 AM on August 13 [63 favorites]


The arguments against ending anonymity which mention whistleblowers and other persons who need protection don't hold much water in my opinion - they could use a proxy service,

Won't that result in all the trolls using proxy services while stripping away a valuable protection from highly vulnerable communities?

Arguments for ending internet anonymity are always, always made from lofty positions of privilege.
posted by dmt at 4:20 AM on August 13 [13 favorites]


Kutsuwamushi, it would then seem that it's the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws and prosecution that needs to be ramped up, rather than continuing to give crooks a comfortable veil of anonymity.

After all, even you with your numerous (hypothetical or not) "blemishes" are not anonymous to the police, the courts or your bank if they really need to know you. In Europe there is a growing feeling (I'd say, at least) to remove anonymity of (corporate) ownership which is wrecking the current financial system.

Also, what strange pride would force me to openly say I'm gay in, say, United Arab Emirates, instead of more gently pressing the topic and calling for a change? If your society has certain deep-going "quirks" and your choice is to tolerate them by being anonymous, how does it feel?

Would blacks be given their rights had they not spoken up?
posted by Laotic at 4:26 AM on August 13


dmt, a whistleblower might always have a trusted anonymizing organization like an ombudsman to go to. The difference is, in a civil interaction on the internet, eventually, I believe, people will want to know who they are talking to (and who potentially harasses or insults them).
posted by Laotic at 4:31 AM on August 13


Laotic, you're really putting a lot of responsibility for change on minorities. Gay people shouldn't be cut off from supportive online communities because others are tremendous assholes.

Perhaps you should spend a few minutes thinking on why your theoretical gay man in Saudi Arabia might want to be out online.
posted by Trifling at 4:59 AM on August 13 [13 favorites]


just one previously amongst several that read on "use real names" policies and privilege
posted by one weird trick at 5:37 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Also, what strange pride would force me to openly say I'm gay in, say, United Arab Emirates, instead of more gently pressing the topic and calling for a change?

The kind where you're looking for other gay people, either just for safe company in which to be yourself or to find a partner or whatever.
posted by Dysk at 5:38 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Laotic, your argument is the same one that's always brought out when people argue for reduced privacy: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear."

That argument comes from a position of privilege, and not from an awareness of how the world works. Let's address your points.

it would then seem that it's the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws and prosecution that needs to be ramped up, rather than continuing to give crooks a comfortable veil of anonymity.

(a) We don't live in a world where those anti-harassment or anti-discrimination laws exist, or even a world where they're likely to be passed any time soon; thus, the legal discrimination against certain types of people is a reality that we have to take into account.

(b) Anti-discrimination laws are notoriously difficult to enforce when they do exist and so discrimination will be a reality that we have to take into account not just until it's illegal, but until people are no longer prejudiced.

(c) Even with very strict anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws, there are some behaviors I would like to avoid that would not be illegal under those laws.

(d) Even with very strict anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws, there are some online activities that I don't want everyone who Googles my name to know, e.g. conversations about my sexuality or medical issues. If everyone had to use their real name, you would deprive many people of much-needed community support.

After all, even you with your numerous (hypothetical or not) "blemishes" are not anonymous to the police, the courts or your bank if they really need to know you.

This is a really terrible line of argumentation. (a) Just because anonymity isn't total doesn't mean it should be further reduced; (b) just because the police, courts, banks can uncover certain info doesn't mean that's always good; (c) my family, friends, potential employers and colleagues, etc, aren't the police and can't subpoena my ISP; (d) you're undercutting your own damn argument by saying the authorities who'd be enforcing your hypothetical anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws have the information they need to that anyway.

In Europe there is a growing feeling (I'd say, at least) to remove anonymity of (corporate) ownership which is wrecking the current financial system.

I'm not a corporation.

Also, what strange pride would force me to openly say I'm gay in, say, United Arab Emirates, instead of more gently pressing the topic and calling for a change? If your society has certain deep-going "quirks" and your choice is to tolerate them by being anonymous, how does it feel? Would blacks be given their rights had they not spoken up?

Are you fucking serious? This is incoherent. First you chastise minorities who might want to talk about who they are--you call it "strange pride" as if you can't imagine any other reason, like support or companionship, that someone might want to say to another person, "I'm gay." And then you chastise minorities who aren't open enough about who they are, and accuse them "tolerating" discrimination.

And you do this using gay men in the UAE as your example. (!?!?!?!)

Look, it's not an either-or choice: You can seek out support and companionship in online communities where your anonymity protects you, while at the same time advocating for change in safer ways in public. But even if it was, demanding that people put their lives and livelihoods on the line is a massive pile of steaming, privileged bullshit.

Would blacks be given their rights had they not spoken up?

Using the Civil Rights movement to scold minorities for wishing to protect themselves from abuse, discrimination, and even death is not a good look.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:43 AM on August 13 [37 favorites]


Kutsuwamushi, I think you might be conflating anonymity with privacy. (Edit: I'm talking about anonymity, you seem to be arguing against reduced privacy, where I'm on the same page as you).

Even given that, I believe the position on this matter is political, rather than scientifically determinable. Whereas I'm convinced that in the long run it would help the internet if interlocutors used their primary handle, you, for your reasons, believe that (some) anonymity is good.

If you wish to carry on without hijacking the thread, feel free to drop me a private message.
posted by Laotic at 6:44 AM on August 13


I think you might be conflating anonymity with privacy

No, I am not. My response to you make it clear that I'm talking about anonymity; I use the word itself many times. I do not disagree with you because I am confused. I disagree with you because I think you are wrong. The points I made above, which you have not responded to, explain why.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:54 AM on August 13 [15 favorites]


Twitch yanks harassment livestream, but doesn’t ban the user who made it

Years ago I was banned from Twitch for doing a private (meaning it doesn't show up in the lists and can only be reached if you have the URL, a feature that I believe no longer exists) stream of a Dota match from a pro event with commentary for a friend who was interested in the game but needed me to explain what was going on in it. They managed to ban me very quickly, before the match was even over. That was apparently both against their rules and worth their time, but this wasn't somehow.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:07 AM on August 13 [11 favorites]


I've heard it phrased as fearing Kafka, not Orwell. It's not about having something to hide; it's about something innocent being used against you by a system that isn't acting in your interests.

Fun fact: the 'anonymity is the problem' argument usually comes down to an understanding of abuse drawn from Gabriel's Internet Fuckwad Theory, which posits, without any empirical evidence, that normal person + anonymity + audience = fuckwad. There's actual social science research on this now - turns out anonymity doesn't matter at all; it's consequences that make a difference, just like in real life.

'Gabriel' is the handle of the artist of Penny Arcade, so, yeah, this is also the fault of gamer culture.
posted by Merus at 8:36 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


The women on Twitch don’t see themselves as pornographers or sex workers

don't see themselves as. that's what it is, really; that's where women are in the garbage discourse. you don't get to declare that you are or are not a pornographer or sex worker, do you? you only get to say how you feel, how you see yourself. all a matter of perspective, isn't it? Whether a man's jerking off to you or not, that's what determines what you actually are.

fuck a bunch of how we "see ourselves." women are real and we know what we're doing, no matter who's looking.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:25 AM on August 13 [21 favorites]


If Facebook has taught us anything, it's that Real Name policies favor the privileged. I deleted my Facebook account in solidarity with trans individuals who are forced to use their deadname on the service out of some misguided attempt to keep users accountable, while racist shitbags can use facebook to spread hate and misinformation without fear of reprisal. Ending anonymity is not the solution here.
posted by Aleyn at 9:49 AM on August 13 [9 favorites]


I think the author had the solution right at end of the post, in a way which doesn't require any thorny debates about privacy or civil rights:
Show me the algorithm that can look at this kind of behaviour and, within seconds and with decent accuracy, IP-ban the ring leader and all their followers. Because if you haven’t got that then, as so often in our high technology age, you need human moderators to be on-call and available to review this stuff as it’s happening.
Large companies substantially magnify the problem by skimping on enforcement, which shifts the costs the least privileged users. That's what we should be focused on changing because without real and prompt enforcement none of the other proposed measures will be very effective either.
posted by adamsc at 1:12 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Large companies substantially magnify the problem by skimping on enforcement, which shifts the costs the least privileged users. That's what we should be focused on changing because without real and prompt enforcement none of the other proposed measures will be very effect

It doesn't matter how accurate the algorithm, or massive the human moderation, if the company just doesn't care to do anything about harassers. Like Twitch. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. All of them have the resources to moderate harassers, and refuse, because that would reduce their growth numbers.

And of course in addition to the lack of resources argument, there's also the various privileged morality arguments that favor sacrificing women to the status quo "Think of the poor hypothetical activist in the Middle East!" the actual argument, is that the lives of women just aren't worth much, and if women dare to show themselves in pubic, they deserve to be harassed.

The bottom line is that toxic gaming culture and the white supremacists own social media at this point. But at least we have our "freedom" to "dialogue"
posted by happyroach at 1:22 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Let's be specific, indeed - not all trolls are gamers, and the form that trolling takes sides from community to community. What's under discussion here is the rot in gamer culture specifically (and not all of it is reducible to trolling - a lot of it is just flippant off-hand stuff, not concerted harassment) ... We don't mean you personally, but if we're to collectively deal with this problem, we need to move on from arguing and collectively acknowledge it.

I absolutely agree that gamer culture in particular has a problem with tolerating misogyny and racism. And I tend to agree with arguments that the best way to deal with the worst problems may be efforts to move the entire bell curve in the right direction.

But I think what Ignorantsavage was getting at was more of a tactical consideration. The default response to a lot of this behavior has been, "Well that's gamer culture so get used to it." I think that's worth pushing back against and trying to convince companies like Twitch that trolls are a minority of their user base that they don't need to hang onto, that their user numbers would go up if they cracked down on the trolls and made their services safe for the people who have been driven away by this kind of behavior.
posted by straight at 3:02 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


> trolls are a minority of their user base

I suspect the company makes more money from the watchers than the trollers. Like Youtube gets watchers for train wreck and aircraft crash videos. Trolling, one can watch live as it happens. I'd bet the people who watch troll wars online also profitably click on ads a lot, but that's just a hunch about people.

Trolling as a spectator sport I'd guess is profitable for the companies that seem to tolerate trolling to get attention.
posted by hank at 6:04 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


The trolls may be a minority of users, but an organisation like Twitch is probably betting that the "freeze peach!!1" and "f u sjw cuck" reactions to actually taking any kind of content policy seriously would be significant. I think it would be - I reckon there's a significant portion of the Twitch userbase who see themselves as "hardcore" gamers who'd side with the "if I want to de toxic and call my LoL opponent scum fuck I should be allowed! It's fun!" dude from an FPP a week or two back.
posted by Dysk at 3:54 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


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