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Twitch updates measures to clamp down on child grooming

Mandatory phone verification, updated moderation and Spirit AI acquisition expected to assist efforts against predators

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Twitch has revealed its latest initiatives designed to prevent predators from grooming children via its streaming site.

The company originally detailed some of these efforts in a blog post back in September. Yesterday, it updated that post with more information on what it is doing, emphasising that "predators are not welcome and will not be tolerated on Twitch."

Central to this is preventing children from even being on Twitch. The site's policy is that you must be over 13 to have an account or post content, and Twitch has now expanded the signals it uses to catch and terminate accounts belonging to users under this age limit.

The company says it has also improved how it detects and blocks new accounts from users under 13 that have previously been suspended.

Twitch has introduced mandatory phone verification before "potentially vulnerable accounts" are about to broadcast, and it continues to refine the moderation technology used by its staff to review user reports in this area.

Other measures include updating the site's default privacy settings for its direct messaging system, Whispers, and blocking the use of certain search terms and phrases.

Twitch has also been working with expert organisations on understanding grooming behaviour on the site, and in the wider industry, and it has completed its acquisition of Spirit AI, which has built a language processing system that will help better detect harms of all kinds in written text.

Twitch did not offer further detail in order to "avoid giving bad actors information they could use to evade our efforts."

"There is no single fix to prevent predation," the company wrote. "The work requires constant iteration across many parts of Twitch, including the human, technological, and industry levers available."

It concluded: "To stay ahead of predatory bad actors, collaboration is critical. We urge anyone with information about grooming on Twitch to share it with us so we can protect the children involved, remove the predators and their networks, and report them when possible to law enforcement bodies who can hold them accountable in the real world."

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James Batchelor

Editor-in-Chief

James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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