Twitch takes legal action to help marginalized users of the platform fight “hate raids”, where users or bots infiltrate a harassing chat, often aimed at black streamers and LGBTQ.
The streaming site filed a complaint last Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against two of its users for repeatedly flouting its community guidelines against harassment.
Cruzzcontrol, a streamer believed to be based in Baarto, the Netherlands, and Creatineoverdose, a streamer believed to be based in Vienna, Austria, are accused by Twitch of engaging in “hate raid” harassment, which may take in the form of racist slurs, threats of violence and doxxing.
“Although we have identified and banned thousands of accounts in the past few weeks, these players continue to work hard to find creative ways around our improvements and show no intention of stopping,” a spokesperson said. from Twitch in a statement to NBC News.
The news, first reported by Wired, comes weeks after users of the site staged a boycott called “A Day Off Twitch” to urge the platform to take action against the heinous raids.
Twitch says that Cruzzcontrol and Creatineoverdose, who are only known by their usernames, have created new accounts to continue harassing minority Twitch users after the platform banned them. They allegedly used robots to overwhelm creators of sexist, racist and homophobic language and content, court documents say.
Thousands of bots have been linked to Cruzzcontrol, “including those that target black and LGBTQIA + streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist and other harassment content,” according to the complaint. Creatineoverdose also used bot software to infiltrate users marginalized by harassment.
Hateful raids can be so damaging to a streamer that they can reduce their income on Twitch and prevent them from engaging with their followers, according to the complaint.
“These attacks hamper chat so much that victimized streamers cannot interact with their community via chat for the duration of the attack, and some even choose to avoid streaming altogether until the attack is over,” indicates the complaint. “The attacks caused some victims to stop broadcasting on Twitch until the hate raids were over, eliminating a significant source of income for them.”
While the identity of the two streamers is still unknown, a Twitch spokesperson said the company hopes the lawsuit can shed light on who they are.
Some Twitch streamers who helped organize the recent boycott have responded positively to the news of the complaint being filed.
“Obviously that’s not the only solution Twitch needs to do, but it’s a good message to send to anyone involved or considering getting involved. [with hate raids]”said Raven, 31, a Twitch streamer who asked NBC News not to use her real name out of fear for her safety.
Raven, who organized the boycott with streamers Lucia Everblack and ShineyPen, called the complaint a “good first step.”
Internet anonymity is not a good reason for committing acts of hatred towards marginalized people, “Raven said.” These acts have consequences.
Still, some are more skeptical about whether the complaint will result in any significant changes.
“It’s more than two people and it’s been going on for years, they won’t catch everyone and the lawsuits barely deter future bad actors,” Everblack said. “My hope is always placed on real solutions to technical problems still allowing this to happen.”
Twitch hopes the complaint will deter others from engaging in harassment tactics, the spokesperson said. But, the “complaint is by no means the only step we have taken to combat targeted attacks, and it will not be the last.”
The platform is working to update its proactive detection system, tackle emerging behaviors and finalize new tools to help protect its users from harassment, according to the spokesperson.
“Hate and harassment have no place on Twitch, and we know we still have a lot of work to do, but we hope these combined actions will help reduce the immediate and unacceptable damage that targeted attacks have inflicted on our community, ”the spokesperson said. noted.