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Popular Twitch streamers receive lengthy bans for using homophobic language, offensive jokes

Part of the company’s crackdown on hateful content

Twitch Destiny
Twitch streamer Destiny

Destiny and M0E, two of Twitch’s biggest streamers, aren’t strangers to the platform’s banning process. But their latest infarctions are another example of Twitch cracking down on hateful content.

[Warning: The following includes hateful language that may be upsetting for some readers.]

Destiny is best known on Twitch for not only his Hearthstone broadcasts, but also engaging in political discussions. Destiny has also built a reputation by using language and making jokes that his audience finds funny, despite their offensive nature. This often include using words like “retard” or “faggot” in a joke.

Twitch has never tolerated streamers using these words during broadcasts, and the company has tried to crack down on hateful language — including when used in jokes — since introducing a new set of community guidelines in February. All of that helps to explain why Destiny received a 30-day ban a few days ago. Destiny explained in a recent YouTube stream following his ban that he’s not sure what exactly prompted the ban, but gave two ideas as to what may have prompted Twitch taking action.

“I was given two reasons for why I was banned,” Destiny says in the video above. He continued:

The first one was because I called the one dude a bad word. I called him the F-word — I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say it without getting banned on another platform, but I said the F-word, and called him a retard or whatever. Apparently that was bad. But they also clipped the thing where I was talking to my mom and I said, ‘Holy shit, maybe they should just fucking shoot Cubans who were swimming over to the US or something or what my mom wanted to do to Mexicans or whatever.’

Destiny, who is of Hispanic descent, said he heard from people at Twitch that it was his comments about Cubans that really landed him in trouble. Even if Destiny meant it as a joke, the statement violates Twitch’s community guidelines regarding hateful content and inciting violence. Twitch’s community guidelines state:

Hateful conduct is any content or activity that promotes, encourages, or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment, or violence based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, medical condition, physical characteristics, or veteran status, and is prohibited. Any hateful conduct is considered a zero-tolerance violation and all accounts associated with such conduct will be indefinitely suspended.

Again, Destiny isn’t a stranger to Twitch’s ban process. The streamer received a seven-day ban in January for threatening another streamer, which fans defended as a joke. The issue, according to Twitch’s community guidelines, is that dark humor and controversial jokes must be explicitly referred to as a joke, otherwise Twitch has the authority to ban a streamer. The company’s guidelines specify:

We support Twitch users who express diverse or unpopular points of view, or do so in humorous or controversial ways, but make your intent clear. We don’t tolerate conduct that encourages or condones hate or harassment in any way. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for conduct that results in hate or harassment.

That’s why, even if Destiny claims everything he’s saying is a joke, Twitch has the right to issue a 30-day ban. Thirty days is one of the lengthier punishments, but many streamers receive longer bans on their second or third incident. That’s exactly what happened to M0E, another popular streamer who received a 30-day ban recently for using the word “faggot” during a stream and trying to defend his actions.

M0E is seen in the video below talking to people about using the word. He compares using “faggot” in place of a word like “retarded” — to imply that something is bad, essentially.

“I’m going to try and stop using the word ‘faggot,’ but it’s one of my favorite words,” M0E said. “It’s not offensive. It has a lot of different meanings.”

In a tweet about the ban, M0E called it unfair to receive such a lengthy ban without a heads up. Twitch’s community guidelines do address situations like this, adding that severity and intent will be taken into consideration when bans are handed out.

Twitch will consider a number of factors to determine the intent and context of any reported hateful conduct. Hateful conduct is a zero-tolerance violation and all accounts associated with such activity will receive an indefinite suspension.

It’s not just Destiny and M0E who have been affected in recent weeks. Alfie, a popular streamer who was banned a couple of weeks ago for streaming copyrighted music from rapper Juice Wrld, has also been reprimanded for objectionable conduct. Alfie received a 24-hour ban on July 2 for hateful chat that occurred in his unmonitored Twitch chat. Alfie addressed the incident on Twitter, apologizing for his chat, and promising to keep a better eye on it in the future alongside his moderators.

These bans signify big changes at Twitch. The company is holding its streamers accountable not only for what they say, but also for what their community members say on chat. This is reflected in the platform’s updated guidelines:

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 ban wave has kickstarted a conversation in the community, with many streamers like Destiny considering moving their content to YouTube, which is slightly more liberal with its streaming conduct. Polygon has reached out to Twitch for further information on the number of bans in recent days, and will update if more information becomes available.

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