At TwitchCon Amsterdam, streaming giant Twitch announced a number of new safety features coming soon to the platform.
This includes the ability for streamers to customise who can “raid” them, plus the ability to share a list of banned accounts with other streamers. Both of these features are in response to the mass wave of hate raids that affected marginalised streamers last year.
The features were introduced at the opening ceremony by Twitch CEO Emmett Shear: “We’re never going to be done with safety on Twitch, it’s a goal without end.
“When we say we want Twitch to be the best place to be a streamer, we mean making your experience with chat safe to be an essential part of that goal. One major priority for us is raising the safety baseline – that’s the level of protection you can expect from Twitch without having to do anything at all.”
So how can raids be customised? Streamers will be able to set an upper and lower threshold as to the number of viewers in a potential incoming raid, as well as the age of the account.
They can further customise whether raids can come from teammates, followed channels, subscribers, and more. Raid controls will be more easily accessible while live. They can also be turned off completely.
Sharing banned accounts between streamers “helps the community protect each other before harassment can spread,” said Shear.
It’s unclear how soon these new features will be implemented, but streamers from marginalised groups are positive about the changes.
“I think it’s a good safety feature because right now your only option is no raids or people you follow and there’s no inbetween,” streamer CypherOfTyr told Eurogamer. “So I like it because it steps the verification process. I don’t know if it will stop hate raids because when people are determined, they’re determined. But I do think it will be a big help.”
“This is something that should’ve come a long time ago,” says CoderGirlChan. “I’m happy it’s here though, I’m glad we can moderate the raids coming in. As someone in the LGBT+ community and the Black community we’re the hardest hit by this. So the fact we can control who’s coming in and protect our community, that’s huge. During Black History Month I got hate raided three times in one stream and I just ended because it was defeating. So if I can control it, that’s super important for me to stay safe.”
LukeBoogie agrees, though, that the timing is late.
“What’s taken so long? That’s the same issue Twitch always has with transparency, you never really know what they’re working on. You’re shouting out into the void and you never know if Twitch is listening. We’ve finally got something but it’s taken too long to get there,” they say.
CafeEla is also positive about the change, particularly the control it gives to streamers.
“No one has to use it but when being targeted by hate raids, it seems to give some peace of mind and prevent harassment and hate,” she says. “Also I know of people who have raids deactivated in general out of anxiety reasons, which is very understandable. So this just gives more customisation towards it, so you don’t have to either turn on or turn off anymore.”
However, there is still more to be done to protect streamers on Twitch from harassment.
“This definitely does not fix the issue at the root of these raids,” says CafeEla.
“There has to be more done towards creator safety and not even letting these things happen in the first place. There has to be a clear stance towards harassment, and pro BIPOC and other marginalised creator demographics. We need to continue to uplift and support them, and be loud about these issues.
“It’s of course frustrating because these bot armies can be created by a very loud few people (or even one person), but that’s why Twitch has to stay diligent to try and hold these individuals accountable. It’s important that people don’t get left alone just because now there are more tools for prevention.”
For CypherOfTyr, the ability to prevent banned accounts from watching a stream is the next major feature that needs to be implemented.
“Banned chatters can still watch,” she says. “Since [Twitch] can monetise allowing certain people to watch my stream if I say sub only, there should be a way to keep it so that if you are banned in this chat you cannot view this content, there should be a flag for that.”
CoderGirlChan would like to see Twitch do more to weed out newly created bot accounts.
“The biggest thing is those new accounts. Sometimes I’ll have someone who made an account five minutes ago who will come into my chat and just start going off,” she says. “I have some of the highest moderation settings on my account and yet they’re still coming in and chatting and saying bad things. They should have a certain duration before they’re able to even chat. You need to prove you’re a person at the end of the day.”
What’s more, she’d like to see more support from Twitch directly when marginalised streamers are promoted on the front page.
“If you know someone’s going to be on the front page, especially for Pride Month or Black History, we need to have some moderation in there from [Twitch’s] actual team. Our moderation team, they have the tools but they can only do so much,” she says.