Twitch is unaware of the threats. A Twitch spokesperson said the company plans to live stream a session in the coming months to educate streamers about the real-world risks involved. In recent years, it has increased its efforts to build security into the platform, said Mr. Verrilli, the product chief. For example, he noted, the site has made changes to hide personal contact information on Twitch’s settings page, so streamers who share their computer screens don’t accidentally reveal their address or phone number.
Angela Hession, Twitch’s vice president of global trust and security, said her team is informing creators “how to protect themselves both on and off Twitch,” including offering a safety center to prevent doxing, swatting and stalking. Ms Hession said Twitch was trying to create a “safe environment” but was limited in how much it could help. It cannot, for example, release identifying information about potential harassment unless the company receives a lawful request from law enforcement. Twitch’s team responsible for communicating with law enforcement and informing it about threats on the platform has quadrupled in size over the past two years.
Last year, the company announced it would begin holding users accountable for misconduct that occurred “out of service,” saying it was a new approach for the industry. If a Twitch user is found to have committed “horrendous real-world harm,” according to the company, the user can be banned from the platform.
Twitch must 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 Montreal’s Concordia University who studies video games and Twitch.
“They want to shut down the worst harassment because it drives people away from the stream and the channel, but they don’t want to crack down too much because they don’t want to drive too many people away. Too many spectators,” said Dr. Consalvo.
In 2020, Twitch expanded its definition of hateful behavior, acknowledging that some creators, particularly minorities, “face disproportionate harassment and abuse online.” Last summer, the hashtag #TwitchDoBetter started trending on social media after black and LGBTQ streamers reported that they were so-called.