Twitch will ban users for ‘severe misconduct’ that occurs away from its site

(Reuters) – Live-streaming service Twitch will ban users for offenses such as hate-group membership or credible threats of mass violence that occur entirely away from the site, in a new approach to moderating the platform, the company said on Wednesday.

The Amazon Inc-owned platform, which is popular among video gamers, said under its new rules it would take enforcement actions against offline offenses that posed a “substantial safety risk” to its community.

It said examples of this “severe misconduct” include terrorist activities, child sexual exploitation, violent extremism, credible threats of mass violence, carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to sexual assault and threatening Twitch or its staff.

“Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large, but it’s one we believe – and hear from you – is crucial to get right,” the company said in a blog post.

Major social media companies Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc largely focus their rules and enforcement actions on content and activity on the actual services, with exceptions for certain individuals or organizations they have designated as dangerous or violent.

Twitch previously took into account off-service behaviors related to incidents on the site, such as harassment on other social media platforms.

It said it had also historically taken action against serious misconduct away from its service, such as when it indefinitely suspended the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Twitch said it did not have a large-scale approach in the past.

The company said users will be able to report such behaviors but it may also investigate cases proactively, for instance if there is a verified news report that a user has been arrested.

Twitch said it would rely more heavily on law enforcement in “off-service” cases and is partnering with an investigative law firm to support its internal team. It declined to name the firm.

The new standards will apply even if the target of the offline behaviors is not a Twitch user or if the perpetrator was not a user when they committed the acts. Perpetrators would also be banned from registering a Twitch account, it said.

Twitch said it would take action only when there was evidence, such as screen shots, videos of off-Twitch behavior or police filings, verified by its internal team or third-party investigators. Users who submit a large amount of frivolous reports will face suspension.

The company said in cases where the behavior happened in the distant past, users had gone through rehabilitation such as time in a correctional facility, and they no longer presented a danger to the community, it might not take action or might reinstate users on appeal.

It said it would share updates with the involved parties but would not share public updates about actions under this policy.

Streamer xQc knocked offline over unpaid electricity bill

Famous Twitch streamer xQc was knocked offline during a live broadcast because he forgot to pay his electricity bill.

Felix Lengyel – to use the streamer’s real name – is a former pro esports player and one of the biggest game streaming stars on earth.

After his stream abruptly ended, he tweeted: “Forgot to pay the electricity bill.”

Lengyel is reported to be a millionaire thanks to his huge audiences on Twitch and YouTube.

But he told his followers his electricity being cut off was not a sign of any financial crisis.

“Power went down, stream did too. Will be back on later today or tomorrow,” he told fans.

“Autopay was on but my credit card limit is the same I had when I was 12 so sometimes it’s empty and payment can’t go through.

“Just Canadian bank stuff, move along.” View original tweet on Twitter

True to his word, he resumed streaming hours later – electricity apparently having been sorted. It also affected his room-mate and fellow streamer Adept.

xQc made headlines in 2018 when he was suspended from his professional sports team in the Overwatch League, for using a homophobic slur on his personal livestream – something which the League decided broke its professional code of conduct.

He was fined $2,000 and banned for four matches. 

Now aged 25, Lengyel is signed to esports group Luminosity, but streams on a daily basis as a full-time career.

His Twitch channel has more than eight million followers, and individual videos rack up hundreds of thousands of views. That success is supplemented by a strong YouTube presence, where he has one and a half million subscribers.

Basketball-Twitch sign interactive content deal with FIBA

(Reuters) – The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has signed a multi-year deal to show content from the sport on interactive streaming service Twitch, the organisations told Reuters on Wednesday.

Twitch is best known as a platform for e-sports and has become increasingly popular with musicians and sports teams but FIBA is the first international governing body to join the service.

Under the deal, FIBA will broadcast around 600 hours of live basketball games each year but will also give fans and influencers access to official footage to create their own content.

Twitch streams often feature ‘alternative commentary’ on content and can also feature repackaged content in the form of talk-shows or other formats.

The terms of the deal have not been made public but the money FIBA is receiving will be primarily used to invest in the content production process on the platform, Frank Leenders, Director General of FIBA Media and Marketing Services told Reuters.

“It is not a platform like YouTube where you just stream your games and people consume. You have to use the specificity of Twitch which means you have to invest in interactivity and co-streamers who are very important influencers on the platform,” he said.

“It is a partnership where we use the resources predominantly to adapt our content, build up the community and be successful over the next two years,” he added.

Twitch is seen a route to reach a younger audience who are more interested in interactive content and who traditional broadcasters may find difficult to reach.

“We believe that it is something we should embrace… to be successful with a demographic that the sports world is struggling to capture,” said Leenders.

The service is a subsidiary of Amazon and in the United Kingdom, Amazon Prime has broadcast some of its Premier League soccer matches on the platform.

Charlie Beall, Twitch EMEA Sports Lead, said the deal fit in with the service’s move to a more broader range of content.

“Whilst Twitch is known for its heritage in gaming, we have seen this organic growth outside of gaming in the last few years, particularly in music and sport,” he said.

“Non-gaming content has quadrupled over the last three years. Twitch is a community which meets around passion points and clearly that has tie-ins with particular sports.

“We identified basketball as a global sport with passionate communities in territories around the world and we want to try to do something different around the live interactive element that marks Twitch’s service out,” he added.

The live games, which will be streamed both on FIBA’s Twitch channel and on the channels of its creators’ network, will include all FIBA 3×3 competitions, the EuroLeague Women and selected youth tournaments.

Additionally, highlights and delayed coverage of FIBA’s national team and other club competitions and youth tournaments will be packaged and distributed specifically for Twitch creators.