Twitch is strengthening its stance on harassment in latest community guidelines update


Twitch announced updates to its community guidelines today, all of which will go into effect on Feb. 19 at 9am PT.

The old guidelines will remain in use until that date, but all clips and VODs that violate Twitch’s new rules will have to be deleted, else the streamer could be punished.

“During the transition period, we’ll be reaching out to some streamers whose current and past content may violate these new guidelines to help you be successful on Twitch,” the company wrote in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure everyone understands and adheres to the updated community guidelines so you can keep creating content for your communities.”

An anti-harassment and hateful conduct policy has been added to ensure that all Twitch streamers feel welcome on the platform. Any content deemed hateful will result in an immediate and “indefinite” suspension. This extends beyond Twitch itself, as the company will now “consider verifiable or harassing conduct that takes place off-Twitch when making moderation decisions for actions that occur on Twitch.”

Hate speech directed toward someone on Twitch, regardless of where it’s posted, will be a violation of the policy. Twitch gave a bit more context in a statement to Dot Esports: “It means users can provide documentation that illustrates harassment from any source, but we will only factor in instances if we can personally verify them.”

In a statement issued to Dot Esports, Twitch clarified what sort of hateful speech would warrant an immediate suspension. Further details are available online.

“Hateful conduct is any content or activity that promotes, encourages, or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment, or violence based on the following characteristics, and is strictly prohibited: Race, ethnicity, or national origin; religion; sex, gender, or gender identity; age; sexual orientation; disability or mental condition; physical characteristics; veteran status,” Twitch wrote.

Twitch has also added to its rules against “sexual content.” Sexual content of any kind is not allowed, but the company is updating its policy to “review your conduct in its entirety when evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive,” Twitch wrote. That means looking at “contextual elements” that include stream title, camera angles, emotes, and overlays.

“Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant,” Twitch said. As with the anti-harassment policy, the exact details of these rules remain unclear.

Twitch will not tolerate the policy as an excuse to harass streamers on or off Twitch, it wrote, even if you believe they may be breaking the rules. This line is a step forward for Twitch, as women are often harassed for their clothing choices on stream, regardless of whether they break the rules or not.

Twitch will continue to evaluate its guidelines and revisit its enforcement policies for partnered streamers and non-partnered streamers. “You can also expect significant improvements to AutoMod, Twitch’s automated chat moderation system,” Twitch said in closing.