League of Legends streamer Ashkan “TF Blade” Homayouni was banned from Twitch on Tuesday for allegedly using a racial slur on stream. But Homayouni pushed back against the ban, saying that he’s been wrongfully accused and that Twitch staff misheard him.
“I actually just got suspended on twitch for something I never said but twitch missheard [sic] and assumed I did,” Homayouni said on Twitter. It’s not clear who reported Homayouni for allegedly using the slur, which he says was actually the word “idiot.”
Homayouni’s ban was initially set for 30 days, though once he appealed it, Twitch staff reduced it to seven days, noting that he had good behavior in the past and they don’t believe he is a hateful person. According to an apparent email from an unidentified person at Twitch, “numerous people listen[ed] to the clip, and unfortunately they all also heard the N word.”
“Even after asking to listen for idiots, they couldn’t hear it,” a Twitch staffer said. “Because of that, they were originally leaning toward leaving the full 30 day suspension. That being said, I relayed your response, and highlighted your history, specifically your lack of previous infractions, and after further review, the appeals team has agreed to reduce your suspension from 30 days down to 7 days.”
“They are literally going to just ruin my reputation on a mistake that is on their side, this is truly unfair,” Homayouni said on Twitter. “All the sponsors will look at this without the full context and take the wrong point. I am seriously frustrated with this.”
Homayouni initially tweeted about the ban on April 23 and since then, Riot Games employees and other League of Legends esports personalities have defended him on Twitter, saying they didn’t hear what employees at Twitch heard.
The gameplay data lead at Riot Games, Nathan Blau, attributed semantic priming to the mishearing. If somebody watches the clip for the first time expecting to hear “idiots,” they’ll likely hear Homayouni say “idiots.”
Regarding @tfblade's ban, I'd hypothesize some degree of priming could have had an effect.— Riot Blaustoise (@RiotBlaustoise) April 24, 2019
Watch the clip after I say "idiots" a bunch. I think you're (1) more likely to hear "idiots" and (2) if you already heard it before, you'll hear it more clearly.@Twitch @TwitchSupport pic.twitter.com/W29DIDWhP7
Team Liquid’s owner, Steve Arhancet, noted that the organization is speaking with Twitch right now to discuss the ban.
I’ve listened to the clip with TFBlade over 20 times now, it’s clear to me he’s saying idiots. We are reaching out to twitch to remove the ban and seek an apology for the misunderstanding. If this happens, we hope TFBlade accepts and we all move on.— Steve Arhancet (@LiQuiD112) April 24, 2019
Streamer Pokimane encountered a similar situation in March, where she said on stream, “This Anivia is getting cucked,” which some Twitch viewers heard not as Anivia, but as the n-word. Pokimane did not receive a ban for her stream.
We’ve reached out to Twitch for additional details on Homayouni’s ban and will update when the company responds.