Sunday, January 17, 2021

Twitch announces new rules to tackle sexual harassment

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Hello, Broadsheet readers! State attorneys general are suing Facebook in an antitrust case, Kamala Harris changes the cultural perception of “stepmom” and Twitch takes action to crack down on sexual harassment. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

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

While Twitter and Facebook tends to get more media coverage around harassment and misinformation, Twitch deserves your attention. The platform is booming with lockdown-fueled growth, averaging 26.5 million daily viewers, up from 17.5 million at the start of 2020, according to the NYT.

And, like anyone who has followed the Gamergate drama of old will remember, sexual harassment in the gaming community is a serious problem. As of June of this year, more than 70 people, most of them women, have made allegations of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault against prominent players and leaders of the industry. (For anyone who missed it, I recommend read this story; I suspect he flew under the radar for many amid the COVID crisis and outrage over George Floyd’s murder this spring.)

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

Kristen bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@
Kayelbee

Today’s Broadsheet was organized by Emma Hinchliffe.



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