Twitch Transparency Report shows significant growth, but continued challenges

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Twitch thrived in 2020. The livestreaming platform saw an estimated 40 percent growth in the number of new channels during last year, as the profile of gaming and digital content rose due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Twitch now seeing more than 26 million users on its site daily, the platform now has to wrestle with the safety of its community, both viewers and content creators alike.

This is what Twitch laid out in its first-ever Transparency Report, published earlier today.

“At Twitch, we believe everyone in our community – creators, viewers, moderators, and Twitch – plays a big role in promoting the health and safety of our community. Through the Community Guidelines, we try to make clear what expression and behavior are allowed on the service, and what is not. We then rely on community moderation actions and user reporting, along with technological solutions, such as machine learning and proactive detection, to ensure the Community Guidelines are upheld,” the Report explains.

New tools

As such, now the platform is highlighting the different levels of safety it needs to contend with inside of its community.

“Through experimentation and investment, we have learned that for Twitch, user safety is best protected, and most scalable, when we employ a range of tools and processes, and when we partner with, and empower, our community members,” it points out.

One method that Twitch is turning to is machine detection, specifically when it comes to content that infringes upon its guidelines, especially sexually suggestive content, which has proved divisive to say the least in recent years.

“Over the last two years, we have implemented ‘machine detection’ technologies that scan content on the service to remove harmful or inappropriate  content, or flag it for review by human specialists. Examples of this are nudity, sexual content, gore and extreme violence. Twitch is predominantly a live-streaming service, and most of the content that is streamed is not recorded or uploaded,” notes the platform.

“Because content is viewed as it is created, live-streaming provides a particularly challenging environment for machine detection to keep up. Nevertheless, we have found ways to use machine detection to bolster proactive moderation on Twitch, and we will continue to invest in these technologies to improve them,” it adds.

Old problems

One of the other important elements that Twitch needs to tackle is harassment and online abuse. This is especially important as viewers and donators on the platform crave more interaction with content creators, some of which may not always be condoned.

In December of last year, the platform outlined new guidelines as it pertains to harassment, which have now been placed into effect.

“In our updates to the Nudity and Attire and the Harassment and Hateful Conduct policies, we started by convening and gathering feedback from focus groups made up of a diverse set of Twitch creators. We also reviewed draft guidelines with our Safety Advisory Council – an eight-member group of creators, academics, and NGO leaders. These steps helped to clarify our guidelines and better reflect the standards and ideals of the Twitch community,” says Twitch.

“We recognize that our service, our community, and the world we live in are not static, and as such we will continue to review and evolve our standards and expectations, and update our Community Guidelines to reflect this evolution,” it continues.

The company says that it’s new measures are having the desired impact, with AutoMod or active moderators coming into contact with 95 percent of all content during the latter half of 2020, as well as reports of harassment from direct messages down by 70 percent during the same period.

While Twitch is seemingly patting itself on the back with this first-ever Transparency Report, much like other online platforms such as YouTube, there is still a disconnect between those running it and those using it.

As Twitch’s popularity shows no signs of wavering, it is now up to the platform to police its site with greater precision, otherwise it runs the risk of being another unsafe corner of the internet.

You can read the full and lengthy Transparency Report here.

[Image – Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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