Twitch has been dealing with hate raids, an epidemic of harassment targeting marginalized streamers, since August. This is a spamming tactic that floods streamers' chats with hateful, bigoted language amplified by bots dozens of times per minute. Twitch sued two hate raiders on Thursday for harassing black streamers and LGBTQIA+ streamers. This was in violation of the terms of service.
A Twitch spokesperson stated in a comment to WIRED that the Complaint would shed light on the identities of those behind the attacks and the tools they exploit. It also will discourage them from using similar behavior with other services and help to end these vile attacks on members of our community.
Harassment on the basis of gender, race, or sexuality is nothing new for the 10-year-old game streaming platform. However, the number of targeted hate raids has increased over the past month. Marginalized streamers are subject to derogatory messages, sometimes hundreds per day. Twitch has been under pressure to take action and thousands of streamers have joined forces with hashtags #TwitchDoBetter, and #ADayOffTwitch to boycott the service for a single day.
Twitch has made several changes to reduce hate raids. Twitch claims it has blocked thousands of accounts in the last month and created chat filters. It also has been working to improve channel-level ban evasion detection. However, the perpetrators are still creating new accounts while concealing their online identities to avoid accountability. Twitch spokeswoman said that the malicious actors were motivated to break our Terms of Service and create new fake accounts to harass Creators, even though we constantly update our sitewide protections against them rapidly changing behaviors.
Thursday's lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of the Northern District of California against two users. They are Cruzzcontrol (or CreatineOverdose) and Twitch believe they are located in the Netherlands or Vienna, Austria. Twitch claims it first took swift action to suspend and then permanently ban their accounts. It states, however, that Twitch initially took swift action by suspending and then permanently banning their accounts.
CreatineOverdose, the suit claims, demonstrated on August 15 how their bot software can be used to spam Twitch with racial and graphic descriptions of violence against minority groups. It also claims that defendants could be part of hate raiding communities that coordinate attacks over Discord or Steam.
Twitch has been involved in legal disputes with bot-makers before. Twitch sued bot-makers for artificially inflating viewer and follower numbers. Matthew DiPietro was Twitch's senior vice president of marketing. The judge ordered the bot-makers pay $1.3 million to the company for breach of contract and unfair competition. Thursday's suit could help reveal the identities of anonymous hate raiders and allow them to face legal consequences.