After an upswell in targeted harassment on the streaming platform Twitch, an organized boycott of the website on the part of users, and a lawsuit to pursue two alleged harassers, Twitch has announced the new steps it’s taking to protect users against targeted harassment on the platform, including a new feature: phone-verified chat. The new settings will enable streamers to require that “some or all users verify a phone number before chatting,” Twitch told Polygon Wednesday. The new features will also unroll on Wednesday.
“Curbing this type of behavior is, and will continue to be, a top priority for us,” a blog post from the company said. “We’re optimistic that this will have a significant impact on curbing any kind of chat-based harassment, including targeted bot attacks,” a representative said to Polygon via email.
Creators will also be able to add an email-verified chat as well, and they’ll be able to tailor their chat rules according to different standards. For example, creators can set it so that that only users who have been following under a certain period of time need to be verified.
The idea, per Twitch’s account of how the feature will work, is that the phone-verified chat will make it more difficult for bad actors to evade channel bans by creating a new account. With the feature, users will be able to verify up to 5 accounts with one phone number.
Before this announcement, Twitch also took legal action against at least two accounts it had identified as being behind the attacks. It had not yet announced expanded safety features at the time.
All these actions come after a rise in harassment campaigns targeting creators on the platform. The aforementioned “bot attacks” refer to a harassment technique called “hate raids,” through which malicious actors use the platform’s “raid” function to flood a creator’s chat with hateful messages, often using bot accounts.
What started as a hashtag to raise awareness turned into an organized boycott called “ADayOffTwitch” that called on streamers to not stream for an entire day, which made a dent in viewership numbers on the Amazon-owned streaming website.