Twitch shares plans for addressing ‘severe off-service misconduct’

A third-party investigative partner has been brought on to help with decisions, too.

Image via Twitch

Twitch is following up on its updated Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy with new plans on how it will address severe misconduct that occurs outside of the platform but still has an impact on the Twitch ecosystem. 

This means Twitch is expanding its current policy on off-service enforcement to account for more than just serious cases of hateful conduct or harassment directed at members of the Twitch community on social media, other online services, or offline.

With these changes, Twitch is also bringing in a third-party investigative partner that will support the platform’s internal team. The partner’s name hasn’t been shared, but Twitch said it’s “an experienced investigations law firm that is dedicated to conducting independent workplace and campus investigations,” specifically experienced with cases related to sexual discrimination or assault.

The updated policy splits the off-service enforcement guidelines into two categories with varying approaches being taken to ensure proper punishment is enforced. 

“While this policy is new, we have taken action historically against serious, clear misconduct that took place off service, but until now, we didn’t have an approach that scaled,” Twitch said. “These investigations are vastly more complex and can take significant time and resources to resolve.”

For category one cases where someone is harassed on Twitch, as well as off Twitch, the platform will take into account verifiable, off-service behaviors or statements that relate to an incident that took place on Twitch. Twitter, for example, might be used as evidence. This is similar to how Twitch currently conducts off-service investigations and will remain relatively the same. 

Category two is where the real changes come in. Twitch will now actively enforce serious offenses that pose a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community, even if the actions occur entirely off of the platform.

Here’s the list of examples given in the announcement, though Twitch said it’s “not inclusive of all types of harassment and abuse” and will take action against other credible actions too. 

  • Deadly violence and violent extremism.
  • Terrorist activities or recruiting.
  • Explicit and/or credible threats of mass violence (i.e. threats against a group of people, event, or location where people would gather).
  • Leadership or membership in a known hate group.
  • Carrying out or acting as an accomplice to non-consensual sexual activities and/or sexual assault.
  • Sexual exploitation of children, such as child grooming and solicitation/distribution of underage sexual materials.
  • Actions that would directly and explicitly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community, such as threatening violence at a Twitch event.
  • Explicit and/or credible threats against Twitch, including Twitch staff.

Twitch is also launching a dedicated email address, [email protected],  where anyone can report egregious, off-service misconduct within the Twitch community. All emails sent to that address will be treated as confidential and will only be shared with a limited group within Twitch and its third-party investigative partner.

But Twitch also said it will only take action in cases where evidence is provided, which “may include links, screenshots, video of off-Twitch behavior, interviews, police filings or interactions, that have been verified by our law enforcement response team or the third-party investigators.”

“We have access to the relevant data about activity that occurs on the Twitch service, which enables us to investigate reports and enforce our policies,” Twitch said. “For behaviors that take place off Twitch, we must rely more heavily on law enforcement and other services to share relevant evidence before we can move forward.”

Twitch and its partners will decide how to handle each case and may not inform accused parties until it has ensured that the evidence brought up is credible. No action will be taken against an accused user’s account until the investigation is complete and only if evidence of wrongdoing is confirmed. 

Updates will be shared with involved parties on a case-by-case basis and nothing will be published publicly. Thus, Twitch wanted to be upfront with all of its changes as it works to “is as safe, inclusive, diverse, and positive an environment as, together, we can make it.”

You can read more about the specific changes to the platform’s policies and some frequently asked questions on the official Twitch blog.