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Preventing the Incitement of Violence

May 27 2021

Twitch enables creators to amplify their voices and expand their audiences. The vast majority of creators build healthy communities on Twitch, but, in the rare case that an individual’s use of Twitch creates a risk of inciting  violence, we believe intervention is necessary for the safety of our community. Early this year, following the events at the US Capitol, we made the decision to indefinitely suspend the account of former President Donald Trump because his statements had been interpreted as calls to violence by some of his supporters. We took this action to prevent our service from being used to promote violence and to protect the Twitch community and the general public from further harm. We also committed to evaluating and updating our policy to ensure we were prepared to take consistent action and provide clarity, should a similar situation arise in the future. 

We have clear guidelines prohibiting hateful conduct and incitement of violence on our service and a new policy that outlines how we take action against severe off-service misconduct, including violent extremism or making credible threats of mass violence. However, we determined that our policies did not - with sufficient clarity - account for highly prominent individuals using rhetoric that incites violence. We recognize the considerable influence that individuals can have over their communities, and that Twitch could be used to amplify that influence.  In light of this, we’ve added the following language to the “Violence and Threats” section of the Community Guidelines: 

In exceptional circumstances, we may preemptively suspend accounts when we believe an individual’s use of Twitch poses a high likelihood of inciting violence. In weighing the risk of harm, we consider an individual’s influence, the level of recklessness in their past behaviors (regardless of whether any past behavior occurred on Twitch), whether or not there continues to be a risk of harm, and the scale of ongoing threats.

Our goal is to ensure we are able to prevent individuals with a high degree of influence from using Twitch to incite real world violence. This policy is designed to address exceptional circumstances and will not impact the vast majority of Twitch creators or their content, nor will it change how we enforce our existing policy prohibiting violence and threats that occur on Twitch. 

We believe this is an essential step to protect our communities on and off Twitch. We’ll continue to evaluate our policies and processes to ensure we’re doing everything we can to reduce harm on Twitch and make it a place where healthy communities can thrive. 

FAQ

How is this different from the new Off-Service Policy?

This policy and the off-service conduct policy may seem like they overlap somewhat. The primary differences are: (1) this policy deals only with streamers who are particularly prominent or influential, whereas the off-service conduct policy addresses streamers without regard to their reach or notoriety; and (2) this policy addresses incitement to violence, which can be less explicit than specific behaviors covered by the off-service policy.  

How can I report someone I believe is inciting violence?

If you believe an account has violated our Community Guidelines you can file a report by navigating to the account’s channel page and clicking on the three vertical dots below the video player. Once you’ve selected where the action occurred (e.g. on stream), you should then select “Threats, harm, or endangerment of someone.”

How do you determine an individual’s level of influence?

We will consider a number of factors, including an individual’s account reach (on Twitch and other services), held office or other public figure status, or prominence within a community, in order to determine their level of influence. 

How do you define or determine an individual’s ‘recklessness?’

We will consider a range of behaviors including provocation of violence through the repeated use of inflammatory language, making explicit threats, or expressing support for an extremist group prone to violence. 

How do you determine the risk of harm?

Our priority is to assess the likely danger of inspiring immediate, real-world physical harm. We will consider a number of sources for determining that risk, including threats on social media, evidence of others interpreting words as calls to violence, and news coverage.

Will suspensions under this policy be permanent?

We will assess the length of the enforcement on a case-by-case basis.

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