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Twitch tackling sexually suggestive content in IRL section with new rules

Apparel must be mall friendly, Twitch says

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Twitch is introducing new community guidelines to try and better control its growing IRL section, including those for how streamers dress while broadcasting.

In a blog post, Twitch outlined a proper dress code that all streamers must abide by, regardless of gender. The company is updating its moderation framework to review streamer conduct, and will use the new guidelines to determine whether the broadcast is intended to be explicit in nature. It will issue consequences to streamers who are intentionally broadcasting sexually suggestive content.

“We’ll be looking at contextual elements such as the stream title, camera angles, emotes, panels, attire, overlays, and chat moderation,” the blog post reads. “Offering access to prohibited sexual content such as ‘lewds’ on Twitch remains prohibited.

“Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant. “

One of the biggest complaints Twitch receives from viewers and many streamers is the sexually suggestive content found in the IRL section. Often referred to as “bikini streamers” and other, more vulgar terms, these streams tend to feature women wearing low-cut shirts while playing games and engaging with people in the chat. Phrases like “squats for subs,” which refer to the streamer performing a series of squats in front of the camera for more subscribers, are among the activities that Twitch hopes to address with its new guidelines.

This isn’t the first time that Twitch has introduced streamer apparel guidelines, but a combination of more “bikini streamers” and increased popularity of the IRL section, which debuted in early 2017, led to the platform’s biggest debate over what constitutes fair streaming practices. Multiple bans for some female streamers, who performed sexually explicit acts while broadcasting or selling “lewds” on Twitter, have only driven the community further apart.

Some of Twitch’s most notorious casters have responded with harassment, including misogynistic rants that refer to female streamers as “sluts.” One of the most notable rants occurred last November, when a viral video of a caster named Trainwrecks spread around Twitter. Trainwrecks is heard in a video talking about taking the platform back from “bikini streamers” and returning Twitch to its former glory days. Threatening responses like these have affected numerous female casters, who tweeted out their fears of backlash and harassment while streaming in a hostile environment.

The company is aware of the fragile relationship between gaming personalities and popular female IRL streamers. Twitch stated that any harassment of female streamers — on- or off-platform — can result in an indefinite ban.

“As a reminder, we will not tolerate using this policy as a basis to harass streamers on or off Twitch, regardless of whether you think they’re breaking this rule.”

The blog post reiterated that it expects to announce more changes to the IRL section in the coming months. Twitch continues to highlight the notoriously toxic section as one that needs more attention, starting with changes to Twitch’s automated chat moderation system.

“We will also be revisiting our enforcement policies for both partners and non-partners, our appeals process, IRL guidelines, and preventing user-to-user harassment,” the company wrote.

This is one of its biggest overhauls, so Twitch is giving streamers until 12 p.m. ET on Feb. 19 to delete archived clips and videos that violate the new guidelines. The company said that it will be reaching out to streamers “whose current and past content may violate these new guidelines” before the new rules go into effect.