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Twitch enforcement rate on reports of violations dropped to 11% in 2021

Streaming service says better tools and anti-spam measures led to lower enforcement rate, as action on hateful conduct reports quadrupled, up to nearly 8%

Twitch released its transparency report for the second half of 2021 Friday afternoon, providing an opportunity for us to check in with the streaming platform's moderation efforts and how they've changed over the past year.

The company's transparency report for 2020 revealed that fewer than 15% of user reports for policy-violating behavior on the service actually led to enforcement, a term that covers everything from permanent bans to simple warnings.

For 2021, that number actually decreased to a little over 11%, but there were significant shifts in the types of reports that were acted upon.

(Just like last year, Twitch did not share a breakdown of exact numbers for how many reports it received from each category, but a bar graph of reports gives us enough information to ballpark the numbers. We asked Twitch for the exact numbers for its transparency report, but a representative told us the company did not share those numbers.)

A graph from Twitch's transparency report

A graph from Twitch's transparency report

In 2020, enforcements were overwhelmingly more likely to come from "Viewbotting, Spam, and Other Community" complaints than more serious transgressions like harassment or threats. More than 90% of enforcements in 2020 came from that category, and reports of viewbotting and spam violations resulted in action more one in four times, making it far and away the most likely type of report to end in enforcement action.

That changed in 2021, as every category except viewbotting and spam saw enforcement rates increase year-over-year. (One possible exception to that statement might be "Terrorism, Terrorist Propaganda, and Recruitment," which sees so few reports that we did not feel comfortable even assigning it a ballpark number, either last year or this year. However, the number of enforcements increased from 87 in 2020 to 89 in 2021.)

In 2021, the viewbotting and spam category only accounted for 63% of all enforcements, and the reports resulting in action by Twitch fell from 26% to 16%.

"The actions taken by our Safety Operations in combination with proactive detection work completed by our Community Health Product team significantly reduced spam in the months after #TwitchDoBetter, leading to a decline in the overall enforcement rate," the company said.

The most significant increase in enforcement came in the "Hateful Conduct, Sexual Harassment, and Harassment" category, which went from having just 2% of reports acted upon in 2020 to almost 8% in 2021.

There were doubtless a number of factors that went into that increase, from the January 2021 implementation of new policies to explicitly prohibit a variety of behaviors, including asking for nudes, deliberately misgendering people, and displaying the Confederate flag. Additionally, Twitch saw a wave of hate raids and harassment on the platform, leading to streamers protesting the company's lack of action on the subject in August.

While Twitch saw reports in the hateful conduct category surge 27% in 2021, it noted that numbers declined at the end of the year after it implemented a variety of measures, like optional phone and email verification.

2021 also saw reports of "Adult Nudity, Pornography, and Sexual Content" on Twitch double year-over-year, which the platform attributed to the rise of Hot Tub streams early in the year.

However, the enforcement rate on those reports was up only modestly, from 2.5% to about 2.7%. The platform noted that "ASCII depictions of body parts and sex acts in chat" accounted for a significant percentage of both reports and enforcements in this category.

Reports and enforcements for "Violence, Gore, Threats, and Other Shocking Conduct" reports likewise increased year-over-year. Reports were up 22% to 1.8 million, while enforcements rose from 0.75% to just over 1%.

"Community safety is our top priority, and one of our largest areas of investment," the company said in its report.

"Like our community, safety at Twitch is constantly evolving. Safety is never an 'end state,' and we're always iterating on existing tools and policies, fortifying our proactive detection and operations behind the scenes, and working on new updates to come."

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