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News > OverwatchFeb 9, 2018 4:00 pm CT

Twitch anti-toxicity efforts include banning people for content on other sites

Twitch announced an overhaul of its community guidelines and moderation policies this week and clarified its position on a number of behaviors that could cause a streamer to be banned or suspended. You can check their full community guidelines right on Twitch, but hateful conduct and harassment is listed as one of their major priorities. Any account found to be participating in any such activities will receive an indefinite suspension rather than operating on a strike system.

Hateful conduct is any content or activity that promotes, encourages, or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment, or violence based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, medical condition, physical characteristics, or veteran status, and is prohibited. Any hateful conduct is considered a zero-tolerance violation and all accounts associated with such conduct will be indefinitely suspended.

Harassment is any content or activity that attempts to intimidate, degrade, abuse, or bully others, or creates a hostile environment for others, and is prohibited. Depending on the severity of the offense, your account may be indefinitely suspended on the first violation.

We prohibit using Twitch to facilitate hateful conduct or harassment, whether the targets are on or off Twitch. Individuals, communities or organizations that do so are not allowed to use our services. We may take action against users for hateful conduct or harassment that occurs off Twitch services that is directed at Twitch users.

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Interestingly, Twitch will begin suspending users and streams for activity on third party websites, too. While some users are opposed to this change, we feel it makes perfect sense. If you’re a streamer who is squeaky-clean on Twitch but hateful on a site like Twitter, you’re still representing the Twitch brand on that website. If you’re a user harassing a streamer on Twitter, you shouldn’t be able to interact with that person on Twitch simply because you kept your hate speech to a third party website. Abusers love to dance around the rules, taking their abuse to the places where they’re least likely to be punished for it. Now, Twitch can punish abusers for that behavior regardless of where they are, even if they can only exact those punishments on their own platform.

Blizzard Entertainment has taken this step with Overwatch and its toxicity “strike team.” Twitch will begin accepting reports of bad behavior on third party websites, but Blizzard has already taken an active approach in a similar vein. Blizzard not only considers behavior on third party websites, but proactively skims third party websites for toxic players. If they see a YouTube video wherein someone is trolling or harassing other players, users can be banned based on the content of that video with no need for an in-game report from a user.

The moves these companies are making is heartening to anyone who’s grown tired of the toxicity of the gaming community. For years, platforms simply accepted poor behavior as standard operating procedure, allowing hostile environments to fester. Allowing such behavior to continue only normalizes that abuse and exacerbates the problem. It’s past time platforms — and developers themselves — need to put their foot down and get the situation under control.

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