Note:This post includes racist and harmful language.
Twitch, created in 2011 and now owned by Amazon, is one of the largest live streaming platforms that focuses on video games and content creation.
Within the last few months, Black streamers on Twitch have been bombarded with hate raids, where bots flood a streamer's chat with threats, and in these cases, racial slurs. Recently, it's only gotten worse.
To bypass Twitch's AutoMod, a tool meant to detect and block inappropriate speech, raiders use symbols to mask their messages. For example, during Twitch affiliate KhamyKilla's livestream, raiders intentionally altered words like "rape" and "aids," changing the spelling to "rap3" and "a1ds," allowing them to use hate speech without being banned from the platform.
To bring awareness to the attacks that have been happening for months, streamer RekItRaven started the #TwitchDoBetter movement.
BuzzFeed spoke to Raven, 31, who has been on and off Twitch since 2015 and says that they've been a victim of hate speech throughout their entire time on the platform.
"The difference this time was that it was very pointed. Instead of blanket racism or hate speech (you're fat, you're Black, you've got boobs), it was 'Hey is a Black goth a Gigger?' My initial reaction was to clap back. I gave them a point for creativity because I hadn't heard that before, but it was just weird to be specifically targeted in such a pointed way."
"The day after I was seeing screenshots from others, particularly SoloAimBot, and I had it. It was enough. So many people were sharing the same or similar stories and I decided that it needed to be called out. That's when I started pushing #TwitchDoBetter."
The hashtag picked up steam, and Twitch released a statement promising to create stronger measures to prevent the raids from happening. But creators aren't convinced that it means anything.
"We've heard it before," Raven said. "There is a substantial lack of faith in Twitch's ability to act and these hate raids have escalated into dangerous territory where people are being doxxed. I don't expect to know the tools they're building, but a timeline would be nice. 'Eventually' isn't good enough."
Raven said that Twitch even reached out to them and they're planning to meet to discuss what needs to be done to protect streamers. They've coordinated with other streamers to compile a list of demands including round-table discussions with marginalized creators, removing the ability to make more than three accounts under the same email, and transparency in the time frame for implementing new security measures. Creators have also created a Change.org petition calling for these demands and it's gotten over 15,000 signatures.
In the meantime, creators have taken matters into their own hands by setting their streams to follower or sub-only mode, having more moderators keep an eye on things, or using their own bots that will automatically catch and delete derogatory messages and ban the perpetrators.
On September 1st, to continue applying pressure on Twitch, creators RekItRaven, LuciaEverblack, and ShineyPen are coordinating #ADayOffTwitch and are encouraging people to not go live and to avoid going on the platform. Though many have criticized the initiative, claiming it's not enough, Raven argues, "Don't count us out because we're not done. We just have to start somewhere."
In the middle of all of this, Raven has been taking time away from Twitch and social media. "I've taken a pretty considerable amount of time to disconnect. Once I feel my threshold for the day, I back away and leave things in the capable hands of people like ShineyPen who approached me about #ADayOffTwitch and LuciaEverblack who's an absolute gem and is so diplomatic."
Twitch hasn't posted any updates regarding what they're doing to stop the raids and protect users. But they're encouraging people to continue reporting the attacks as they come in.
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