Be careful of what you do offline, Twitch’s policy update means it can ban you

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Since January, Twitch has been enforcing its updated Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy which includes a section about “off-service conduct”.

This section allows Twitch to ban a user for harassing a streamer at a convention for example.

“The Twitch community is also at conventions, TwitchCon, Twitch Community Meetups, and even social media. Our community encompasses all of these spaces and we take them into consideration when it comes to our role in keeping the community safe. We may take action against persons for hateful conduct or harassment that occurs off Twitch services and is directed at Twitch users,” reads the policy.

But now Twitch is expanding this section and will enforce its policy further by categorising off-service offences.

A category one offence is where a person harasses a streamer on Twitch, as well as on another platform.

“For example: if we’re reviewing a harassment report about an incident that happened live on stream, related or continued harassment on Twitter could be taken into account when reported to us. This is how our current off-service policy works in the vast majority of cases, and will not change,” explains Twitch.

A category two offence however is more serious. If a user engages in any of the following behaviour, even if it doesn’t happen on Twitch, they will face the platforms wrath.

This behaviour includes:

  • Deadly violence and violent extremism
  • Terrorist activities or recruiting
  • Explicit and/or credible threats of mass violence (i.e. threats against a group of people, event, or location where people would gather).
  • Leadership or membership in a known hate group
  • Carrying out or acting as an accomplice to non-consensual sexual activities and/or sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation of children, such as child grooming and solicitation/distribution of underage sexual materials
  • Actions that would directly and explicitly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community, such as threatening violence at a Twitch event
  • Explicit and/or credible threats against Twitch, including Twitch staff

Twitch says these represent some of the most egregious types of physical and mental harm.

But this doesn’t mean Twitch is omniscient and it acknowledges that its policy has limitations. For instance, if a person isn’t streaming on Twitch or even using the platform, Twitch can’t do anything.

“While this policy is new, we have taken action historically against serious, clear misconduct that took place off service, but until now, we didn’t have an approach that scaled. These investigations are vastly more complex and can take significant time and resources to resolve. We have access to the relevant data about activity that occurs on the Twitch service, which enables us to investigate reports and enforce our policies. For behaviors that take place off Twitch, we must rely more heavily on law enforcement and other services to share relevant evidence before we can move forward,” Twitch wrote.

The platform is working with an unnamed “highly regarded third party investigative partner” to investigate off-service conduct.

Twitch has had a tough time dealing with reports of harassment in the past but this more aggressive stance seems to be Twitch drawing a hardline in the sand regarding what it will and won’t tolerate on its platform, or off its platform for that matter.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.