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Twitch delays new rules to address community concern, frustration

‘We need to better explain some sections’

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Twitch has delayed instating its new community guidelines that target harassment, hateful content and sexually suggestive streams, after casters issued concerns over the guidelines’ phrasing.

The company addressed streamers’ worries about what they consider the confusing guidelines on Twitter. Twitch said it’s taking time to rework the guidelines, putting the new rules into effect on March 5 instead of Feb. 19.

“Thanks for all your insightful feedback on our new Community Guidelines,” the company said on Twitter. “It’s important they’re clear to everyone and we need to better explain some sections, so we’re pushing back enforcement to start March 5. We’ll release an updated FAQ before then.”

One of streamers’ biggest complaints about the originally proposed new rules regards viewer behavior. Twitch’s section on harassment and hate speech says:

Creators are role models and leaders of the communities they create or foster around them. Creators should consider the consequences of their statements and actions of their audiences; we ask that you make a good faith effort to quell any efforts from those in your community to harass others.

The idea that streamers are responsible for what the members of their chat do — either on- or off-platform — isn’t logical, according to some of the most notorious casters. Forsen, a very popular streamer known for having one of the rowdiest fanbases, is one of those creators who’s expressed concern about the future. Forsen’s fans are largely responsible for both the rise of Ugandan Knuckles, a controversial meme made popular by Twitch and VRChat, and organizing spam attacks on other channels via Discord and Reddit.

When Twitch first announced the guidelines changes, Forsen argued that he shouldn’t be penalized for the actions of people he can’t control.

“Creators should consider the consequences of their statements and the actions of their audiences,” he says in the video below. “No, no, no, no. You can not have both. I can watch what I say ... I cannot watch what my community does. Are you fucking serious?”

Forsen has since talked about his ongoing conversation with Twitch about the new rules. He said in a recent stream that, despite requesting further clarification on how it will instate these guidelines, the company responded vaguel.

“I literally asked them to define the rules,” Forsen says in the video below. “How am I supposed to know if my chat is breaking the rules if I don’t know the rules? It doesn’t make any fucking sense. If my chat spams ‘fucking Tuck Frump’ ... what?”

It’s not just Forsen who’s worried about the undertones of the new rules while streaming, which will enforce a stricter dress code for casters. Twitch reasoned that this would help curb sexually suggestive content on the platform, but users pointed out that’s this isn’t a detailed enough explanation to police what streamers wear.

One streamer tweeted about the rules, posting a photo of the outfit she was wearing when she received a ban from Twitch.

“I’ve wore this outfit in public several times,” she wrote. “I didn’t buy it to stream in. So according to their ‘new guidelines’ I didn’t break any rules.”

This isn’t the first time that Twitch has been criticized for the vague language around its rules. The company faced scrutiny last year, when a popular streamer, Trainwrecks, received a five-day suspension for a misogynistic rant. His suspension drudged up an old debate about how suspensions on the platform worked. Users asked why one streamer gets a five-day ban and another gets a 24-hour or 30-day ban. Twitch tried to make this more clear in its new guidelines, but community members are arguing that the company still isn’t being transparent enough.

“Vague ‘update’ on rules,” one person commented on the Twitch subreddit. “Overuse of words like ‘intent’ to purposely muddy the waters on what they’ll actually action against. Just Twitch attempting to curb complaints about how biased the enforcement of the rules, by being able to say ‘see! We have these guidelines.’ but they’re guidelines that are fully up for extremely biased enforcement.”

Polygon has reached out to Twitch for more information.