Twitch announces new rules to curb sexual harassment

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! State attorneys general sue Facebook in an antitrust case, Kamala Harris changes the cultural perception of the “stepmom,” and Twitch moves to crack down on sexual harassment. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Twitch switch. Twitch, the massively popular livestreaming platform used by gamers and others, is the latest tech titan to try to curb sexual harassment and hate speech among its users. On Wednesday, the company (which is owned by Amazon) revealed a new set of guidelines that will, among other things, ban “lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance and expressly prohibit the sending of unsolicited links to nudity,” reports the New York Times. Violators will be fined, suspended, or banned.

While Twitter and Facebook tend to get more media coverage around harassment and misinformation, Twitch is worth your attention. The platform is on a lockdown-fueled rocket ride of growth, with an average of 26.5 million daily viewers, up from 17.5 million at the beginning of 2020, according to the NYT.

And, as anyone who followed the Gamergate drama of yore will recall, sexual harassment in the gaming community is a serious problem. As recently as June of this year, more than 70 people, most of whom are women, levied allegations of sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault against prominent gamers and executives in the industry. (For anyone who missed it, I recommend reading up on that story; I suspect it flew under the radar for many amid the COVID crisis and outrage over the killing of George Floyd this spring.)

Of course, as Twitter’s repeated efforts to control the abuse on its platform illustrate, creating a policy and actually achieving a harassment-free environment are two very different things. One possible flaw in the Twitch guidelines: streamers themselves are generally the ones responsible for enforcing the rules among their viewers.

Kristen Bellstrom
[email protected]

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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