Twitch Introduces New Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy

TwitchCon Crowd - Publicity - H 2019
Patrick Shanley

The changes were outlined in a blog post from the Amazon-owned platform on Wednesday.

Twitch has introduced a new hateful conduct and harassment policy that will take effect in the new year.

The policy, which will be implemented on Jan. 22, puts a specific emphasis on the impact of words and actions, even if one's intent is not to cause harm. A safety team will be put in place to examine the content of statements and actions in order to determine whether certain behaviors are abusive and violates the company's guidelines, rather than relying solely on perceived intent.

A blog from the Amazon-owned company shared on Wednesday, "We know that many people on Twitch–particularly women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color – unfortunately continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service. Not only is this blatantly unacceptable, it also undermines the community we’re building on Twitch and threatens the long term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it."

In the last year, multiple people, many of them women, shared stories of how they have been treated in the male-dominated game industry. This culminated in a "Twitch blackout" in June, where many gamers chose not to stream on the platform in solidarity with those who came forward with accusations.

Twitch went on to say that the new policy, a culmination of a months-long process, is designed to take a "clearer and more consistent stance against hate and harassment." It includes three main sections, covering harassment: defined as targeted attacks designed to disrupt, harm or hijack a community or stream;  hateful conduct; when the attack is based on identity characteristics; and sexual harassment, which now includes sending unwanted links to nude images or videos, making lewd or explicit comments about sexuality or appearance, or repeatedly commenting on an individual's perceived attractiveness.

Last month, Twitch tapped former Microsoft exec Angela Hession to lead trust and safety and oversee community policies designed to make the platform safer and more inclusive for all users.

For its creators, Twitch will be holding sessions to discuss policy changes and answer questions. View the entire policy here.