A group of Twitch streamers and viewers are calling for a one-day boycott of the popular streaming site before Wednesday after what they see as a slow and lukewarm response to widespread allegations of abuse by prominent streamers in recent days.
Over the weekend, popular Twitch streamers including SayNoToRage, Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell, and Henry “HenryG” Greer have been publicly accused of sexual abuse and harassment by several women. All three are part of the Twitch Partners program, which gives them access to special platform features for monetizing and customizing their online video presence. SayNoToRage issued a public apology for his actionssaying there is “no excuse for his behavior”, while Cassell offered a strong denial of the charges against him†
Twitch promises action
In the wake of these accusations, Twitch made a brief statement on Sunday the company say “take[s] allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct very seriously. We are actively investigating accounts related to streamers affiliated with Twitch and will work with law enforcement as appropriate.”
However, that statement was not widely accepted. Former Twitch VP Justin Wong, for example, strengthens reports of an unnamed Twitch affiliate who had been accused of harassment in the past but continued to receive VIP treatment in Twitch events and streams in the future.
These are empty words given that you, as a company, minimized and rejected my sexual harassment and continued to let the predator attend your events and give him live segments at E3 on your official channel. https://t.co/qhRFRoFPRb
— Samantha Wong (@Sampai) June 22, 2020
Twitch music streamer YourStarling, meanwhile, shared reports from a recorded year-old meeting of all employees where: her own reports of abuse by a Twitch affiliate were reportedly fired by Twitch CEO Emmett Shear.
Shear addressed that complaint as part of: sent a long email to Twitch staff, which he shared publicly late Monday. “If at some point you heard my comments and feel that they were dismissive or that Twitch didn’t care, I’m sorry that happened and I want you to know that in no way was my intention he wrote.
In the message to all employees, Shear says the platform will consider “banning partnerships, removing or removing people from promotions and activations if we have concerns based on credible allegations and their historical behavior on Twitch.
“The gaming industry is no different from others who have faced systemic sexism, racism and abuse that rewards certain people and harms – even harms others,” Shear continued in the email. “While this is an industry-wide issue, we recognize that many people experience Twitch and people calling our service home – particularly women, those in the LGBTQIA community, black people and other underrepresented groups – have not been what we aspire to. “
Amid the social media back and forth, some Twitch users are coming together in an effort to force action to back those words up. The Twitch Blackout Effort, if organized under the trending Twitter hashtag #TwitchBlackoutasks streamers and viewers to avoid the platform on Wednesday 24 June. The purpose of the one-day boycott, such as featured by participant ThirdArtifactis to make sure that Shear and Twitch as a whole “know about abuse, racism, sexual harassment, assault and rape”.
WE CALL FOR A #TWITCHBLACKOUT
We are asking streamers of all shapes and sizes to STAY STREAMS ON WED 6/24 12pm – 11:59pm
— Third Artifact #BIM (@third_artifact) June 22, 2020
An accompanying online petition, signed by more than 1,200 people at the time of writing, calls on Shear to back his statements and “finally take action against those who use their power to take advantage of others, and against those who make it possible.” by knowing it turns on, but shut up or wipe it off.”
Twitch has an inconsistent history of responding to reports of problematic behavior from some of its partners. Last year, the company cut ties with Thomas “Elvine” Cheung after he was arrested in a child sex trafficking case. But Australian streamer Luke “MrDeadMoth” Munday was initially only given a temporary ban from the platform after being arrested for assault over an attack captured on stream. Twitch later made that ban permanent after outrage from the community.
And last year, popular streamer Guy “DrDisrespect” Beahm was given a two-week suspension from Twitch after being kicked out of the E3 gaming convention for filming a Twitch stream in a public bathroom.
Last month, Twitch publicly rolled out a Safety Advisory Council aimed at creating new policies and new features to “improve safety and moderation” and “protect the interests of marginalized groups” on the platform. The group is made up of “online security experts and Twitch creators who have an in-depth understanding of Twitch, its content and the community,” as Twitch puts it.