By Jason Fogerty (JFogerty)
If you ask most people to name one popular streaming platform, they will immediately respond “Twitch.” Indeed, Twitch remains among the top streaming platforms worldwide, but it is not without its problems. One common issue that streamers on Twitch must contend with is hate raids. Recently, Twitch took action to try and prevent this problem. Let’s take a closer look at what hate raids are and how the platform is trying to combat them.
What are Hate Raids?
A hate raid works like this. A streamer is online, going about their business. Suddenly, they notice an influx of bots on their chat. The bots then flood their channel with harassment. In order to get the toxic messages to cease, the streamer has to get all of the accounts banned. This is time-consuming and exhausting.
The reason they are “hate” raids is because the goal of the raids in this case is hate speech. People are not harassing streamers they happen to dislike for personal reasons — they are targeting them because they belong to a minority. The hate may be directed at them because of their sexual orientation, gender, or ethnic group.
Obviously, this is a horrible experience for a streamer. But it is also an unpleasant experience for viewers who are tuned in to watch that streamer. Instead of being able to just enjoy the stream as usual, they too have to see all the messages of hate. Plus the messages fill up the chat, making it hard for legitimate chat messages to be seen.
Streamers and their fans have become tired of this situation, and have spoken up about their frustrations. In fact, they have even organized boycotts of Twitch.
What is Twitch Doing to Try and Stop Hate Raids?
Thankfully, Twitch knows that hate raids are a serious issue, and has finally started to take action. There is now a process by which a person may verify an account through their phone. If the person does this, their verification status will be publicly listed, along with the verification date.
Additionally, streamers on the platform are able to filter chat permissions using phone verification status. It would be harder for a spammer to get bot accounts verified this way. So, if a streamer sets up their chat so that no one can post messages without phone verification, it makes it less likely that hate raid bots will be able to post.
This is not to say that no one can verify spam accounts using a phone number. In fact, someone can verify five accounts using just one number. But if Twitch bans any account associated with a particular number, it bans the rest too. At that point, a spammer would have to go out and get a new number to use to verify more accounts.
Other filters are also available. For example, as a streamer, you could also set up your chat to limit messages from those who have been following you for a given length of time. Thus, a spammer could not just flood your chat with bots — they would have to go through the effort of planning ahead, which would likely not be worth it for them.
Is the Problem Solved?
Hate raids will probably be less of a problem with these changes in place on Twitch. But will they go away completely? No. And they certainly will not put an end to spam and harassment altogether. Streamers and viewers on Twitch will continue to have to put up with some irritations.
Plus, Twitch has dragged its feet in dealing with this whole issue — and that has made many streamers angry. The company has a responsibility in our increasingly fractured times to take a stronger stand against hate than it has. And hate itself will continue to be a problem, and those who target minorities through the platform will find new ways to attack users.
Are There Any Alternative Platforms for Streamers?
Actually, it may interest you to know that Twitch’s popularity has been declining a bit during 2021, as you can see in this graph displaying the number of active streamers on the platform. Clearly, streamers have been getting frustrated, and you are not the only one who is looking for an alternative solution.
In fact, there are a number of alternatives to Twitch popping up around the web. One example is time2play, a site that helps players online to find trustworthy gaming sites. Now, the platform is branching into streaming, providing a place where streamers can play casino games, RPGs, shooters, and everything else under the sun. Time2play knows how frustrated Twitch users have become, and seeks to provide a more supportive environment where streamers and their fans can feel safe and welcome.
What Will the Future Bring?
We hope that Twitch will be successful in putting an end to hate raids and other forms of harassment. At the same time, we think it is great that streamers are starting to look for other solutions. We hope that this will lead to increasing decentralization and more competition between streaming platforms.
When streamers have more options, they will be able to choose platforms that provide them with the features, protection, and support they need for their channels to flourish and their careers to thrive.