#TwitchBlackout #MeToo
June 25, 2020 7:42 AM   Subscribe

A Wave Of Sexual Abuse Stories Is Causing A Reckoning In The Twitch Streaming World [Kotaku] “Over the weekend, a trickle of sexual harassment stories surrounding influential figures in the streaming world grew into a tidal wave. More than 50 streamers, most of them women, shared dozens of stories that have already produced vast reverberations, including the resignation of the head of one of the biggest management firms in all of streaming and the departure of over 20 streamers in his wake. In response, some streamers are boycotting the platform altogether today and refusing to stream. High-profile streamers have been accused, often by multiple women, of patterns of inappropriate behavior up to and including sexual assault. The flood of stories this weekend has caused Twitch and its CEO to respond, saying that they will work to address the systemic issues that have so far allowed these kind of predatory behaviors to flourish in the streaming world.” [Discussion & descriptions of sexual misconduct that some may find disturbing.]

• A Wave of Sexual Harassment Accusations Is Sweeping the Games Industry [Vice Gaming]
“In the last few days, numerous people have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault allegations against people in the video game industry. The victims and the accused come from every corner of the industry, and the companies they work for or are associated with have issued statements or say they have opened investigations into abusive and inappropriate behavior. Twitch, Facebook, Ubisoft, Paradox Interactive, Cards Against Humanity, Techland, Gato Studio, and Bungie have all responded to allegations of abuse, misconduct, and sexual assault related to current and former employees and contractors in the last several days. [...] In a statement released Sunday night, Twitch said "we take accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct extremely seriously. We are actively looking into the accounts concerning streamers affiliated with Twitch and will work with law enforcement where applicable." Twitch CEO Emmett Shear also shared an internal company email where he promised to take the stories seriously. “I want Twitch to be the safest place to create on the internet,” he said in the email.
• Twitch: Streamers call for a blackout to recognise victims of sexual and racial abuses [BBC]
“#Twitchblackout is trending today as streamers across the world ask people to avoid the site for a day. They're calling for a blackout because they think the streaming site can do more to recognise victims of sexual and racial abuse. Dozens of women have recently claimed they have been sexually assaulted by people in the gaming industry. Twitch says it takes accusations of sexual harassment seriously. Streamers are arguing Twitch has not acted quickly enough when there have been sexual assault claims made against some of its content creators. Some also think the site has been too lenient when others have been accused of using racist or homophobic language. Encouraging people to stay off the platform for a day could deprive Twitch of viewers and income. Those supporting the blackout think it will lead to Twitch taking these issues more seriously as they feel like the site has not talked to them enough about their concerns. After many claims of sexual harassment in the gaming industry were reported, Twitch posted to say it was actively looking into cases linked to their affiliated streamers.”
• As streamers face harassment allegations, Twitch sees boycott threat [Ars Technica]
An accompanying online petition, signed by over 1,200 people as of this writing, calls for Shear to back up his statements and "finally take action against those who use their power to take advantage of others, & against those who enable it by knowing it goes on but stay silent or brush it off." Twitch has an inconsistent history in responding to reports of problematic behavior among some of its partners. Last year, the company cut ties with Thomas "Elvine" Cheung after he was arrested in a child sex trafficking sting. But Australian streamer Luke "MrDeadMoth" Munday initially received only a temporary ban from the platform after he was arrested for assault over an attack captured on stream. Twitch later made that ban permanent after community outcry. And last year, popular streamer Guy "DrDisrespect" Beahm received a two-week suspension from Twitch after being kicked out of the E3 gaming convention for filming a Twitch stream in a public bathroom. Last month, Twitch publicly rolled out a Safety Advisory Council dedicated to creating new policies and features to "improve safety and moderation" and "protect the interests of marginalized groups" on the platform. The group is made up of "online safety experts and Twitch creators who have a deep understanding of Twitch, its content, and its community," as Twitch puts it.”
posted by Fizz (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The Kotaku article is lengthy and detailed, not an easy read but one that is important. It really demonstrates how terrible Twitch is being run and how shitty the management up at the top is with issues of this kind.

Sadly, I'm not sure how much impact the #TwitchBlackout will have. It'd require a pretty universal blackout to send the signal that this is not acceptable and for a lot of people, they're going to just go about their streaming lives like normal. One hopes that Twitch finally does the right thing and sets some systems in place to really shut down these assholes.
posted by Fizz at 8:04 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]

It really demonstrates how terrible Twitch is being run and how shitty the management up at the top is with issues of this kind.

Since it's owned by Amazon, this is the opposite of shocking. The entire company culture there is dog-eat-dog dogshit.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:10 AM on June 25 [8 favorites]

And what about Twitch itself? Do they have adequate protections to prevent abusive relationships with streamers? Are they really the ones to be investigating themselves?
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 8:21 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]

And what about Twitch itself? Do they have adequate protections to prevent abusive relationships with streamers?

I mean based on everything in that Kotaku article, the answer to this question is NO.

It's also worth noting that in the article there is reference to Twitchcon and how much of the abuse/misconduct took place there. The entire -CON culture is pretty toxic and there needs to be better systems in place to make sure people feel safer when attending or working.

It's this two-fold system of toxicity where these criminals will gaslight and groom victims via digital spaces until they get to meet them in person and put all of their abuse into practice. It needs to be addressed in both spaces, the digital and the real.
posted by Fizz at 8:29 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]

*That last line in my comment up above about "the digital and the real" is not me saying that abuse that takes place in purely "digital" spaces is less serious than those that take place in "real" physical spaces. I just meant that the two are connected.*
posted by Fizz at 8:34 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]

The flood of stories this weekend has caused Twitch and its CEO to respond, saying that they will work to address the systemic issues that have so far allowed these kind of predatory behaviors to flourish in the streaming world.

Wait, let me guess: until just now, nobody at the top had had any idea that any of this deplorable behaviour goes on on their platform?

The Travis Kalanick playbook is a very reliable playbook.
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]

you could work out that Twitch was a miserable place to be by simply looking at any sufficiently large stream's chat
posted by Merus at 9:58 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]

Twitch is basically show biz, so it's going to have many of the same problems. If you're big enough, the rules don't apply to you. Being popular is more important than being good. Controversy leads to views.

With the death of their biggest competitor Mixer, Twitch is even less likely to change.
posted by meowzilla at 11:05 AM on June 25

Not just showbiz. Any industry where men become popular/famous enough. The problem isn't the industry itself. It's male power culture. That said, Twitch is horrible.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:09 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]

Twitch is basically show biz, so it's going to have many of the same problems.

It's worse. Twitch is what lurks in the overlap in the Venn diagram of Show Biz and Gamer Culture.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:17 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]

I asked the only people I ever watch on Twitch to consider joining the blackout. Thursday night is their one remaining weekly Big Event and they're trying desperately to keep their network functioning during the pandemic (tabletop RPG podcast), and couldn't have not known Twitch is the 800 lb toxic culture gorilla in the room when they inked their deals there.

But I'm hopeful. They're typically progressive and reflective (always room to do better, but compared to the vast majority of gamer culture, especially RPGs, I find them tuned in). I don't know how big the blackout will be, but I do know that their twitch channel is both aggressively and fairly moderated, and has never ever once been a dumpster fire as I've seen elsewhere. If anything, it's among the most supportive, kind, genuinely funny exchanges I get on a regular basis at this point.
posted by abulafa at 12:48 PM on June 25

Aaaand I guess the actual blackout was yesterday. Who knew not knowing what day it was would bite me like this?
posted by abulafa at 1:08 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]

> With the death of their biggest competitor Mixer, Twitch is even less likely to change.

I wonder if Mixer shutting down and these allegations are related in some fashion.
posted by pwnguin at 3:54 PM on June 25

Mixer had it's own set of allegations break a day before the sale to Facebook was announced.
posted by Merus at 4:49 PM on June 25

Dropping this here because it's vaguely related, the Something Awful community just managed to kick lowtax out, as of an hour ago. This came about after further allegations of his domestic abuse surfaced a couple days ago. Some secret $$$ amount was given to him in the process to get him to give up actual legal control. But we also cratered all his income sources (patreon, etc), so whatever.

The announcement on SA.
posted by ryanrs at 6:47 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]

Can you give some context on who lowtax is and what it means that he is kicked out?
posted by medusa at 6:54 PM on June 25

Lowtax created Something Awful, a major internet forum for the last 20 years. He's the owner and was basically ousted by the unpaid admins, moderators, and members of SA because he's a piece of shit.

(Someone will probably turn the whole story into a FPP, so I don't want to derail this thread too much.)
posted by ryanrs at 7:01 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]

Mixer was being sold off before this happened. It's been a nose-diving money pit for a while now.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:37 PM on June 25

The twitch stuff has spilled into the Dota2 scene and several shitty individuals have been ejected by the community (yay!). Also, women in the scene have a window where they can speak out without having their careers ruined (good, but that itself is its own wtf).

Reinessa (a dota2 caster, cosplayer, event manager) did an educational stream about what things are like for women who work in esports. I thought it was very interesting. For example, she has a rigorous seven point plan for staying safe at events, and yet she still ends up in uncomfortable situations on the regular. For others who aren't so careful, it is hellish. The stream for the curious: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/658455059

Some of the scene-specific jargon and name-dropping will not land, but I would not be surprised if her experiences and strategies and recommendations are totally portable (I bet much of this would also be relevant for board game cons, for example). The educational part of the stream is broken into four sections: My Stories, My Event Survival Guide, What You Should Do (your behavior), What you should do (to support others)

To reiterate, the ability to be frank like this is typically not possible women in esports. They get smeared as difficult or squeaky wheels or problem-makers and events just wont hire you once you get a poor reputation. These women get a chance to share their experiences without risking their careers, and and the scene is in a receptive state to listen.
posted by pol at 4:13 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]

Twitch Bans Dr Disrespect [Kotaku]
“[Yesterday] out of the blue, Twitch suspended massively popular streamer Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm, a ban that multiple sources tell Kotaku is permanent.

Initially, people suspected that he’d tripped a wire in Twitch’s increasingly aggressive DMCA detection system, but that does not appear to be the case. Industry insider and journalist Rod “Slasher” Breslau said on Twitter that, according to his sources, the ban is permanent. Streamer Shannon “ShannonZKiller” Plante said she’d heard the same from her own sources, adding that the issue is “serious.” Three sources close to Twitch have told Kotaku that the ban is permanent as well.

When reached for more information on why Dr Disrespect has been suspended and for how long, a Twitch representative told Kotaku in an email, “As is our process, we take appropriate action when we have evidence that a streamer has acted in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. These apply to all streamers regardless of status or prominence in the community.””
About fucking time. So glad to hear this. He's been such a troll and the platform has been lifting him up. He'll probably pivot to YouTube, but for now, he's off of Twitch.
posted by Fizz at 8:51 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

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