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Twitch is failing trans streamers, so Peer2Peer is stepping up

Steph “FerociouslySteph” Loehr has been on the Twitch Security Advisory Council since day one. Twitch announced the eight-member group on May 14, 2020, and spent the next few days clarifying what exactly it would do. Advisers will provide insights about moderation policies and harassment on the site, but they will not have the power to change the rules, arbitrate specific cases or publicly represent Twitch.

Meanwhile, Lohar, a trans woman, was targeted in a coordinated harassment campaign led by Twitch fans who did not like the idea of ​​the Security Advisory Council, whether it was actually complete. Became a blacksmith Actually The council and its currents faced brutality, transphobia and death threats. He was crazy and feared his life every day. He had to walk. He stopped streaming for a while.

“Twitch has not given me the slightest protection,” said Loehr.

Even as a member of the Security Advisory Council, Lohar has realized that she is getting out of death threats, bigotry and vitriol on her own. He may have an ear for the company, but this relationship has not given him any additional equipment to face harassment on stage.

Therefore, he made his own.

Peer2Peer.Live Is a third-party site that allows Twitch streamers to tag themselves using identity-based words and phrases such as “lesbian,” “trans,” “black” or “jew”. This allows streamers to build communities around their identities, while also serving as a directory for viewers they can connect to at the most basic levels. Peer2Peer is created by a team of five people, including Lohar, and in collaboration with the non-profit group Trance Lifeline.

“The essence is that people of marginal identity feel the safest in the places they perceive, and the easiest way to find those safe places,” Lohar said. “And that discovery has been completely blocked by Twitch.”

Twitch Is a tagging system Offering hundreds of descriptions related to video game genres, fictional characters, and specific modes of play, but it is based on only one identity, the LGBTQIA +. If you basically want to find a Twitch streamer that is non-binary, or LatinX, or handicapped or Muslim, it takes a ton of scrolling and luck.

As Twitch has evolved into the largest live-video platform in existence, it has expanded beyond video games to include streams about art, music, podcasting, and “just chatting”. Thousands of people streaming Fortnite, Warzone And Grand theft auto v At any given time, therefore, audiences are often drawn to creators based on other traits, including personality, behavior, and identity. Nevertheless, Twitch’s tagging system does not make it easy to find streamers based on these factors.

Twitch

Peer2Peer’s tagline is “Identity is content.” This is an important focus for Peer2Peer Advisory member Irene Nieves, a non-binary Afrolatine woman who streams on Twitch.

“From Twitch’s current lens, identity is not both material and does not mean enough to allow people to tag personal autonomy with the aspects of their identity that matter most to them. ” “Because those tags do not exist for trans people and for marginalized people alike, it sets them apart from the platform at large. It is important for trans people and marginalized people to find each other and a sense of community. Creates next to impossible to produce which at times gives us space and freedom to ourselves. “

So far, Twitch has ignored Peer2Peer, Lohr said. The Security Advisory Council has been adjourned for the time being and has not had a chance to bring identity-based tags with its fellow members. Primarily, the council has discussed policy updates and community guidelines.

In response to the company’s approach to security for a handful of hints and margins streamers about Peer2Peer, Twitch offered Engadget the following statement:


We know that many groups on Twitch Including trance community Unfortunately our service continues to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online. Facing harassment due to race, gender, or any other protected trait is unacceptable, and has no place on Twitch.

We have invested heavily in security compared to last year. We have abolished our policies of hateful conduct and harassment, nudity and presence, and off-service mistreatment so that we can take continued action against harmful behaviors and provide greater clarity to our community. We have introduced better reporting processes so that the community can flag inappropriate or harassing content, and we have increased our moderation team 4 times, allowing us to respond to user reports much faster. We have improved our moderation and proactive activation tools to block harmful content, and more work is going on. We have partnered closely with industry experts to ensure our policies and technologies are optimized to protect our global community from streamers of underproduced groups, and consider the unique needs of all our users.

We know there is still work ahead of us, and are committed to making Twitch the safest and most inclusive community.


It is similar to Twitch, the language used in December 2020, when the company implemented its new rules on hate conduct and harassment. At the time, Twitch said in a blog post, “We know that many people on Twitch – particularly women, members of the LGBTQA + community, black, indigenous and people of color – unfortunately experience online amounts of harassment and abuse. We do.” Our service includes “

Twitch’s reactions are very familiar to Lucia Everblack, a pansexual, non-binary trans woman who has helped develop Peer 2 Peer.

“It’s demonstrative,” he said. “Like, ‘We’re trying. What’s our plan here.’ Someone told this the other day – they always have a plan, but it’s not Execution Of the plan

Just last week, Twitch did another role: Our plan to address serious off-service misconduct. Over the years, Twitch has been criticized for failing to protect its most vulnerable community members, as well as supporting streamers who engage sexual harrasment And indecent language, and otherwise violate company rules. Favorite streamers are whites, cisgender, heterosexual men. In other words, people who do not use identity-based tags too much, because their identity is already accepted as the norm on Twitch.

Peer 2 peer

Peer 2 peer

Twitch officials have told Lohar that they are hesitant to implement the “trans” tag because it could invite harassment.

“But it’s ridiculous for a number of reasons,” Lohr said. According to Loehr, Nees, Everblack and many others, for once, marginalized Twitch creators already face abuse every time. Twitch has not taken appropriate steps to prevent or curb the current harassment, which makes the company’s concern ring hollow.

“Mostly,” Lohr said, “we must allow trans streamers to consent to the search and additional harassment that comes from it, which is part of Peer2Peer.”

Peer2Peer went live on March 20 and received over 1,600 applications from aspiring streamers. Each of them read the disclaimer that greater visibility could lead to targeted harassment, and they chose to tag themselves based on identity. For these streamers, the advantage of search capability outweighs the threat of greater harassment.

“Getting that visibility helps humanize us in a way that I think is probably the most powerful aspect of any movement,” Everblack said. “Once people see that we are just people, they stop treating us as if we are monsters or men trying to enter a different bathroom when we are all trying to . It really helps. I think that even what we are doing allows people to tag themselves, slowly pushing us forward. “

Everblack said it probably wouldn’t be difficult for Twitch to implement Peer2Peer’s tagging system.

“The tag that they have is not that they are adding an entire infrastructure behind it,” she said. “If they wanted to add new tags, it would literally add something to a database that is ‘trans’ and then have some specific ID in it. And that’s it. There’s no complexity.”

Peer 2 peer

Peer 2 peer

As things stand, this often marginalized twitch streamer – victims of abuse – reduces their own communities to use inadequate means. Just two weeks ago, Nis was subject to a “bot follow” attack, where a user filled his channel with fake accounts in an attempt to trigger punishment from Twitch. As a result, the NIS follower count dropped to “next to nothing”. He was once again forced to start building his community from scratch.

“Every day I see my black and brown dreaming friends, the ones I follow, the LGBTQIA + streamers, from their own community not bothering for any results other than moderation, “Said Naadan. “There is no system that prohibits harassers or abusers from creating a combined amount of accounts to continue vitriol, or to hate raids.”

Lohr said that Twitch’s repertoire has some good ideas, including a delay in the chat that holds the message for two to six seconds before posting, giving moderators time to remove the abuse before it goes live. is.

“And that’s what you want. But you have to dive into your moderation settings to set it. “It is not even on the radar of twitch that this equipment is needed by the people.”

This is despite Lohar’s place in the Twitch Security Advisory Council.

“I got to have some conversations with Twitch about his philosophy,” said Lohar. “And I’m still confused, because – I don’t want to speak for Twitch, but I’m afraid to apply what Twitch has done. I think they think they’ll mess it up and Are not able. They feel that they are not equipped to protect marginalized communities and these marginalized communities on their platform. But they like to feature us on Pride Month and Black History Month, and so they accept responsibility Want to withdraw the prize without doing it. “

For now, Peer2Peer will take it.