In an unusual step, Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestreaming service popular among gamers, has formally adopted a policy to suspend users if they engage in “severe misconduct” that occurs off the platform.
The company noted that it has taken action before against serious and clear misconduct that took place offline — but until now, Twitch “didn’t have an approach that scaled,” it said in announcing the new policy Wednesday.
Examples of serious off-service offenses that Twitch will now enforce against under the Off-Service Conduct Policy include: deadly violence, terrorist activities or recruiting, credible threats of mass violence, sexual exploitation of children, sexual assault, and membership in known hate groups.
Twitch said it has teamed with a “highly regarded third-party investigative partner to support our internal team” in investigating allegations of off-service policy violations (without identifying the partner). “We will only take action when there is evidence, which may include links, screenshots, video of off-Twitch behavior, interviews, police filings or interactions, that have been verified by our law enforcement response team or our third party investigators,” Twitch said.
The approach is not typical: Most internet services limit their enforcement to behavior that occurs solely on their platforms. “Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large, but it’s one we believe — and hear from you — is crucial to get right,” Twitch said.
Twitch said it set up a dedicated email address (OSIT@twitch.tv) for anyone to report “egregious off-service misconduct” by members of the Twitch community, including company employees.
The move comes after Twitch updated and expanded its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policies, which went into effect this January.
Last summer, Twitch came under fire after it failed to take action on complaints from several women about sexual harassment they experienced on the platform. In June 2020, in a “Twitch blackout” protest, multiple streamers suspended livestreaming on their channels for 24 hours.