It’s a first. Twitch has filed a complaint against two alleged perpetrators of racist and homophobic cyberstalking, including using bots programmed to flood the windows of user conversations with insults and violent images.
The video game streaming platform faces a wave of “hate raids” against content creators, including non-white people and the LGBTQ community.
Accounts capable of “generating thousands of bots in a few minutes”
These players have recently mobilized with slogans on Twitter and even a day of “strike” to call on Twitch to better protect them against these attacks. The company, which is owned by Amazon, has taken measures, but has failed to curb the phenomenon so far.
According to the complaint filed Thursday in a court in San Francisco (California), two users, identified by the pseudonyms “Cruzzcontrol” and “CreatineOverdose”, manage multiple accounts on the platform under different identities and are able to “generate thousands of bots in minutes ”with the aim of harassing their victims.
The platform had banned them, but “they circumvented the ban by creating alternative accounts and continually changing their ‘hate raid code’ to avoid detection and suspension,” according to the complaint. Twitch believes they are based in the Netherlands and Vienna, respectively. Cruzzcontrol is believed to be behind around 3,000 bots associated with recent raids.
Cyberbullying has taken on an unprecedented scale on the platform
Twitch receives over 30 million visitors per day. They often view video game games with live commentary by the players themselves, and can interact with them and other spectators. But in recent months, the problem of harassment has taken on an unprecedented scale, according to the victims. Their windows of conversation are regularly and suddenly submerged by insults about their skin color, their sexual orientation, their religion… Even by calls to suicide or ultra-violent images.
RekItRaven, a 30-something mother of two, earns all of her income from her channel on Twitch. Tired of war, in August she launched the slogan #TwitchDoBetter (Twitch must do better) on Twitter, then widely picked up by other concerned or supportive people. She said that she now had to carefully prepare her sessions – technical setups, mobilization of her volunteer moderators – to reduce the risk of a new flood of racism and references to the Ku Klux Klan.