Twitch ‘working on’ to make ban notifications more specific

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On a platform as big as Twitch, it can feel like there’s a new controversy every day. But many share one commonality: bewilderment about suspensions. When Twitch creators are currently suspended or banned, the company will send an email summarizing the reason, where the violation occurred, and the duration of the resulting suspension. But in the reason section, Twitch only lists which rule was broken and examples of violating behavior — not what the specific streamer reading the email did. That could change soon.

Twitch’s current policies often lead to confusion and drama. Sometimes a streamer genuinely doesn’t know why they were sent to Twitch Prison; in other cases, they hope to gain sympathy from fans by feigning ignorance. While Twitch has improved its suspension emails over the years, streamers have continued to ask for specifics.

Twitch VP of Trust and Security Angela Hession told The Washington Post that suspensive emails containing clips of violations are likely on the way.

“Safety is a journey, and this is a number one question from our community. So we’re looking at how we can add more details for people to understand, such as the video itself. We’re definitely working on that,” Hession said, adding that more “details and clarity” will come after Twitch determines how it plans to roll out the feature.

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In the meantime, Hession praised Twitch’s recent addition of a career portal, which has streamlined the process of objecting to suspensions and bans in cases where users feel Twitch missed the mark. This is essential, as Twitch is a major source of income for some; even just a handful of days away can mean money left on the table or an exodus of paying subscribers. This new tool has validated Twitch’s approach to moderation, said Rob Lewington, global vice president of security operations. Even before the feature was implemented, Twitch regularly checked decisions to make sure they were in line with the platform’s guidelines, yielding a success rate of over 99 percent. Now that success rate is even higher.

“If we look at the [appeals portal] data shows that less than one percent is actually quite a bit less than one percent,” Lewington said.

Sometimes, though, the issue isn’t whether a moderation decision follows guidelines; it’s the guidelines themselves. Last year, for example, the Twitch community erupted after the suspension of multiple high-profile creators, including left-wing political star Hasan “HasanAbi” Piker, for using the word “cracker” in a derogatory way. Following this, many streamers felt that Twitch’s policies suggested equivalence between “cracker” and other overtly dehumanizing slander against marginalized people. Twitch spokesperson Ariane de Selliers told The Post that Twitch is re-evaluating those controversial policies.

“We’ve heard community concerns and are currently working with experts to see if that approach still makes sense for our global community today,” she said. “That process of re-evaluation with experts is constant for Twitch.”

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Regular re-evaluation and policy evolution led Twitch, among other things, to institute an off-service rule that takes into account behavior of creators on other public forums such as YouTube and Twitter. This will become a particularly pressing issue in the near future as Elon Musk is on the cusp of buying Twitter. †Although also possibly not† Who knows?) Musk has vowed to apply a much lighter touch when it comes to content moderation, which could lead to a significantly more unwieldy platform — one at odds with Twitch, which quadruples the number of employees available to respond to user reports in recent years.

Since coordinated harassment on Twitter can easily spill over into Twitch chats, some users are gearing up for the worst. However, Hession believes that, thanks to an off-service policy developed with the entire internet in mind, Twitch is ready for whatever may come.

“I really don’t know what’s going to happen on Twitter. There is still so much to decide,” she said. “What I’m saying is that safety is a priority [for us]† If you look at our off-service policy, it goes a long way to ensuring that no physical harm happens to our community here on Twitch. I’d say our off-service policy is broader than just one platform. It’s multiple platforms, and our intent is to make sure we’re constantly making sure our community feels safe.”

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