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Twitch bringing ‘investigative partner’ for off-platform misconduct

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On Wednesday, Twitch announced an expansion of its Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy that takes into account behavior taking place off of the platform. A blog post from the company shared that the it is bringing on a “third party investigative partner” to support Twitch’s internal team with investigations, and to help enforce off-platform violations.

Per Twitch’s post, the new partner is an “experienced investigations law firm” that will help the company to “more thoroughly investigate and respond to reports of off-service misconduct.” In addition to adding sheer numbers to the team that investigates incident reports, the post also shared that there will a dedicated email address for people to report “egregious, off-service misconduct.”

While disciplining users for off-platform behavior isn’t new to Twitch — inappropriate behavior off the platform has led to bans since 2018 — this addition will beef up existing policies that the company started enforcing in Jan. 2020. Prior to the announcement, it was unclear how the company would address off-platform violations.

The post elaborated on two categories of off-service enforcement:

Category one: Someone is harassed on Twitch, as well as off Twitch. When this happens, we will take into account verifiable, off-service behaviors or statements that relate to an incident that took place on Twitch. For example: if we’re reviewing a harassment report about an incident that happened live on stream, related or continued harassment on Twitter could be taken into account when reported to us. This is how our current off-service policy works in the vast majority of cases, and will not change.

Category two: We will now enforce against serious offenses that pose a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community, even if these actions occur entirely off Twitch.

The newly expanded enforcement will be focusing on some of the most “egregious types of physical and psychological harm,” including but limited to: deadly violence and violent extremism, carrying out or acting as an accomplice to non-consensual sexual activities and/or sexual assault, and sexual exploitation of children.

Twitch has long struggled with toxicity tied to its platform, even while trying to positively highlight creators of color on the platform. Personalities and community members partaking in homophobic remarks, racist slurs and emotes, and sexist comments are all areas that Twitch has tried to address over the years, with varying results.

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