In the latest update to their harassment policy, Twitch has announced that off-site and offline violations will now result in punitive action from the streaming platform, including account bans and investigations from a third-party agency.
“Our current guidelines state that in some serious cases where there is available, verifiable evidence, we may take action against users for hateful conduct or harassment that occurs off Twitch services—meaning on social media, other online services, or even offline—when directed at members of the Twitch community,” wrote the site’s administrators in an April 7th blog post.
As explained by Twitch, harassment will now fall into two distinct categories. Category one encompasses situations in which “someone is harassed on Twitch, as well as off Twitch.”
In these cases, Twitch “will take into account verifiable, off-service behaviors or statements that relate to an incident that took place on Twitch.” As noted in their blog post, “This is how our current off-service policy works in the vast majority of cases, and will not change.”
The newly introduced second category will deal with “serious offenses that pose a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community, even if these actions occur entirely off Twitch.”
This category includes situations involving “violent extremism”, “credible threats of mass violence”, “membership in a known hate group,” “non-consensual sexual activities and/or sexual assault”, “sexual exploitation of children”, “actions that would directly and explicitly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community,” and “explicit and/or credible threats against Twitch, including Twitch staff.”
“Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large,” the blog post added. “But it’s one we believe—and hear from you—is crucial to get right.”
However, the policy is not without its limits. As clarified by Twitch, “at this time, we’re not able to investigate behaviors that occur entirely off Twitch that fall outside these categories.”
Twitch further revealed that “in order to be as thorough and efficient as possible in these situations,” they would be “bringing on a highly-regarded third party investigative partner to support our internal team with these investigations.”
“This partner is an experienced investigations law firm that is dedicated to conducting independent workplace and campus investigations including those related to sexual discrimination or assault,” said Twitch. “They have deep expertise in these types of cases, as well as training in conducting investigations with respect and sensitivity to all parties involved. This partnership will allow us to more thoroughly investigate and respond to reports of off-service misconduct.”
In order to better facilitate reporting of such incidents, Twitch also announced the creation of “a dedicated email address where anyone can report egregious, off-service misconduct in the categories above committed by a member of the Twitch community.”
That email address is [email protected]
Hoping to assure users that they would be “putting in place a rigorous process to enable us to conduct investigations thoroughly, equitably, and with sensitivity,” particularly in regards to false reports, Twitch explicitly stated that such investigations would “only take action when there is evidence, which may include links, screenshots, video of off-Twitch behavior, interviews, police filings or interactions, that have been verified by our law enforcement response team or our third party investigators.”
To that same end, Twitch declared that they would “also suspend accounts for submitting large amounts of frivolous reports, or encouraging others to submit fake reports.”
Additional details regarding the streaming platform’s expanded policy can be found in the blog post announcing its enforcement.
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