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Twitch crackdown on 'view-bots' includes a lawsuit against seven of their makers

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Twitch is suing seven bot-makers whose wares artificially inflate viewer and follower counts of the livestreaming service's members. The action was announced as part of a general declaration of Twitch policy against such abuses.

"We at Twitch are well aware that view-bots follow-bots and chat-impersonation bots are a persistent frustration," said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch's senior vice president for marketing. "Exploited by a small minority, these services have created a very real problem that has damaging effects across our entire community."

DiPietro noted that bots are not always used by Twitch streamers to boost their viewership numbers. Some are "used to harass other broadcasters in order to attempt to deny them [Twitch] partnership, or get their channel suspended."

Twitch attributed the bots to "a handful of sellers," and said on Friday that it is taking legal action against those who are most active in selling them.

(An abridged link Twitch provided to its legal complaint had expired as of publication. PC Gamer, however, said it alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting, fraud, breach of contract and tortious interference among the seven defendants.)

"Ultimately, though, the best way to stop viewbot sellers from profiting off empty promises is to not buy their services," DiPietro said. Twitch, he said, has the means of detecting and removing false viewers, and its moderation, support and partnership teams regularly investigate and act on allegations of inflated viewer counts.

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