Twitch is unaware of the threats. A Twitch spokeswoman said the company plans to livestream a session in the coming months that will educate streamers about real-world risks. In recent years, it has stepped up its efforts to build security into the platform, said head of product Mr Verrilli. For example, he noted a change the site made to hide personal contact information on the Twitch settings page so that streamers who share their computer screens wouldn’t accidentally reveal their address or phone number.
Angela Hession, Twitch’s vice president of global trust and security, said her team kept creators informed about “how to protect themselves, both on Twitch and off,” including by offering a security center with tips to prevent doxxing, avoid swatting and stalking. Ms. Hession said Twitch tried to create “a safe environment” but was limited in how much it could do to help. For example, it cannot provide identifying information about a potential harassment unless the company receives a valid request from law enforcement. Twitch’s team responsible for correspondence with law enforcement and informing about threats on the platform has quadrupled in the past two years.
Last year, the company announced it would hold users accountable for wrongdoing that occurred “off-duty,” and said it was a new approach for the industry. If a Twitch user is determined to have committed “serious harm in the real world,” according to the company, the user may be banned from the platform.
Twitch has to walk a fine line between protecting streamers from unruly fans and encouraging the kind of interaction that powers the platform and makes money, said Mia Consalvo, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal who studies video games and Twitch.
“They want to stop the most blatant harassment because that will drive people away from the stream and the channel, but they don’t want to be too harsh because they don’t want to scare away too many people, too many viewers,” said Dr Consalvo.
In 2020, Twitch expanded its definition of hateful behavior, recognizing that some creators, particularly minorities, “experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online.” Last summer, the hashtag #TwitchDoBetter started circulating on social media after Black and LGBTQ streamers said they had been the target of so-called hate attacks, in which automated bot accounts spammed their chats with racist and discriminatory swear words.