Twitch updates policy on bots and viewer counts

The company also gave its definition of fake engagement.

Image via Twitch | Remix by Dot Esports

Twitch revealed a new, updated policy on what it calls “fake engagement” today.

Twitch “made changes” that will help “better detect and remove artificial views” from the website. These changes aren’t referenced in detail, however. It’s possible that the changes will affect both policy updates and artificial detection programs. 

Twitch also promised that these changes won’t impact lurkers. Lurking on Twitch is when a real viewer is watching the stream, but otherwise not engaging. This isn’t against Twitch’s Terms of Service and the platform won’t include normal lurking activity in its update. Twitch defined lurking as “viewers who are watching, but may not be chatting, have the stream or browser tab muted, or may be watching a handful of streams at one time.”

Twitch’s announcement included an article that defines fake engagement and botting activity. Fake engagement isn’t limited to bots. Twitch said “fake engagement is artificial inflation of channel statistics, such as views or follows, through coordination or third party tools.” This new policy would prevent “follow for follow” activity with the intention of increasing visibility. Twitch doesn’t consider this a legitimate interaction.

Botting is a common problem for content creating platforms. Users can use bots to increase their follow count. Twitch bases its affiliate and partner programs, in part, on follower count and interaction. Bots can be used to mimic viewers in both viewership and stream chats.

Twitch was careful to add that botting may not be the streamer’s fault. Streamers can be the victim of view-botting or follow-botting without initiating it. Twitch is aware of this and users need to have hard evidence that a streamer knew about the bots before reporting a channel.