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Twitch introduces new tool to fight chat abuse

AutoMod to assist streamers faced with sexist, racist and homophobic commentary

Live streaming platform Twitch has developed new technology to combat racist, sexist and homophobic abuse in its chat system.

The new moderation tool is designed to create a more 'inclusive chat experience'. Currently, Twitch streamers can ban links, words, repeated phrases and entire individuals from their chat streams, they can also slow chat down to better monitor and control the comments and assign moderators, too.

However, this hasn't been enough to prevent hateful and inappropriate remarks in the first place, which is what the new AutoMod tool is designed to combat.

The tool (as long as streamers opt-in) will flag anything it deems as potentially inappropriate and it will be held in a publishing queue, awaiting moderator approval. The level of filtering can be adjusted and it will also spot inappropriate strings of emotes and other symbols. It is initially available for the English language, with a Beta version available for Arabic, Czech, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

It's not particularly revolutionary - most chat systems utilise such a tool - but it will come as a relief to Twitch streamers who have had to contend with some serious abuse at times. It's not uncommon for events featuring women to have the chat functions turned off, or watched carefully, to contend with online trolling.

Twitch as a business has often supported initiatives to encourage more women to not just get onto its platform, but also the industry as a whole. It has also backed talks and conferences aimed at people of color and the LGBT community. It forms part of the company's strategy, so this new tool is long overdue.

"This allows creators to focus more on producing great content and managing their communities, insisted Ryan Kennedy, Moderation Lead at Twitch.

"By combining the power of humans and machine learning, AutoMod takes that a step further. For the first time ever, we're empowering all of our creators to establish a reliable baseline for acceptable language and around the clock chat moderation."

Anna Prosser Robinson, Programming Manager and Inclusivity Group lead at Twitch, added: "Inclusivity is something that is important to both our community and our brand. One of the best ways we can help bring about change is to provide tools and education that empower all types of voices to be heard. AutoMod is one of those tools, and we hope it will encourage our users to join us in our continued focus on fostering a positive environment on social media."

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