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Twitch ramps up anti-harassment efforts with new community guidelines

Immediate indefinite bans introduced because "hate simply has no place in the Twitch community"

Leading livestream platform Twitch has revised its community guidelines and is taking a stronger stance against harassment, sexual content and hateful behaviour.

In a blog post, the company noted that in an effort to enable further creativity among streamers it loosened its guidelines on non-gaming content last year. But while there has been an abundance of new stream types on the platform, this has also been exploited by some channels and prompted aggressive behaviour from some viewers.

Twitch notes that it has been "too slow to act" as the community called for clarification on what was allowed by the new guidelines and what behaviour warranted punishment. The platform will address this with a series of updates to its policies and moderation process, starting with its stance on anti-harassment and sexual content.

To begin with, any conduct the firm considers hateful will now result in an instant and permanent suspension, with the post adding: "Hate simply has no place in the Twitch community."

Moderators will also be taking off-Twitch conduct into consideration when making decisions, so harassment of a Twitch user via another platform will still be deemed a violation of this policy.

Twitch is also urging both streamers and viewers to be more mindful of what they are saying: "Please remember, even if you're just joking with your friends, you're still choosing to stream on a service that reaches a large audience."

The company also stresses that because Twitch's audience encompasses all ages and cultures, no content is allowed to be sexual in nature.

Moderators will review users' conduct and content to evaluate whether their intent is to be sexually suggestive. This will include stream titles, camera angles, emotes, panels, overlays, chat moderation - and even what the stream is wearing.

"Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall or restaurant," the company wrote. "As a reminder, we will not tolerate using this policy as a basis to harass streamers on or off Twitch, regardless of whether you think they're breaking this rule."

The new rules come into effect on Monday, February 19th at 9am PST in order to give all users time to familiarise themselves with the new policies. Any clips or videos-on-demand that violate the new rules must be removed before this time.

"We want everyone to not only feel welcome on Twitch, but to be proud to be part of the community," the company wrote. "To that end, we are strengthening our stance on harassment and hate."

Twitch has previously demonstrated its stance on inclusivity with initiatives such as the Twitch Unity Day. We spoke to then-COO Kevin Lin last year about the rise of toxic behaviour, with the exec saying he believed there was a "glimmer of hope" that the industry can quash such negativity in the long run.

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