Twitch today announced the new hateful content and harassment policy for its streamer community and confirmed that it will go into effect on January 22, 2021.
Twitch is also announcing changes to its policies around harassment and hateful conduct. The company wrote in a blog post that the reason, they are taking this step, is because marginalized people — women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color, — are disproportionately harassed on the site.
The new policy is far more specific about what brings in harassment and abuse. The larger changes include far more stringent protections over sexual harassment, the policy extending off-platform to an extent, and that enforcement in cases that are harder to judge will rely on external signals.
A bigger overhaul has come to Twitch’s policy regarding sexual harassment; it’s now much more stringent in what is permitted and what isn’t, and it now has its own category in the terms of service. The policy now prohibits repeatedly commenting on someone’s perceived attractiveness, even in what you believe to be a positive or complementary manner,” if there’s an indication the behavior is unwelcome; it also forbids making lewd or explicit comments about anyone’s physical appearance, specifically stating that the company will not make an exception for public figures.
Twitch says that new rules will go into effect on the content created from January 22nd. The company also says that the policy is more stringent and it will also provide punishments as per the severity. Enforcement will depend on sets of signals from targeted individuals in cases where offending behavior is more subjective.
Twitch’s blog post said, “In the event of a more subjective situation we will rely on signals from the person being targeted to help us take the appropriate and desired action.”
The new policy seems to be aimed at plugging the holes in the old one. For example, promoting hateful viewpoints under the guise of education or comedy will lead to a suspension. Stream sniping gets its own line; it’s banned. Even the broadcasters who don’t make an effort to curtail incitement of abuse in their own channels will be banned.
Twitch said that it has worked with its Safety Advisory Council and industry experts for months on the new rules, and the hard work shows. Twitch is three events to familiarize broadcasters and their communities with the new rules on December 11th, December 16th, and on January 6th to review the policy again and answer frequently asked questions.