Being a Twitch streamer can be exhausting at baseline. Long hours, usually layered on top of another full time job, constantly entertaining and interacting with chat. But marginalized creators, POCs, women and those in the LGBTQ+ community, have an additional problem that comes up often and forcefully: harassment.
Harassment on Twitch or other streaming services is sadly, nothing new, and yet these creators are now finding themselves frequently targeted with a new kind of attack called a “hate raid,” in which they are flooded with new viewers and followers, but ones that are simply there to spam their streams with hate.
The issue has become so pervasive that three creators, ShineyPen, Lucia Everblack, and RekitRaven, have organized a blackout called “A Day Off Twitch” today to highlight the issue, and what is deemed to be a lack of adequate response from Twitch regarding the practice. Twitch has broadcast many messages of inclusivity over the years and have implemented tools they claim will help stop harassment, and yet the new trend of hate raids is only escalating, and it seems like little is being done about it on the ground.
I spoke with a number of content creators who have experienced hate raids since the practice started about what they’ve endured and how they want to see Twitch respond.
Here’s how a hate raid can begin, via streamer iamBrandon, who experienced his first hate raid just two weeks ago:
“I had two new viewers who came in and tried to have a casual conversation, but I had previously recognized one of the names as someone who had hate raided someone before so I had my tools ready to stop it instantly. After they spoke for a little bit they followed, then the raid started, then I was follow botted, meaning I had 500 fake accounts added to my account.”
Things can escalate from there. Here’s streamer Zmoke, who describes his own experience:
“A mass of accounts, way too many to count, all flooded the chats, saying to “Behead all (racial slur)s,” and spamming the “Trihard” emote, an emote of a black creator that bigoted members of the Twitch community like to spam whenever a black creator appears on an official Twitch broadcast…It took over an hour to ban all the accounts, and even after, I started receiving follows from accounts that were “IP bots.” Since then, I’ve seen personal information like my name and address appear on Twitch because the bots were able to take my information when I went to ban the account.”
Zmoke doesn’t believe Twitch has the right toolset to combat hate raids at the moment. “As creators we have certain tools like blacklisting and muting words, but these methods don’t work because each bot in the raid is using a different accented letter or a letter from a different keyboard. The only useful tools to combat hate raids are user-generated and don’t even come from Twitch, such as Commander Root, but even that is risky because it can inadvertently cause innocent followers to be deleted from your channel.” He goes on to say that the core problem is systemic, not just hate raids themselves, but roots of racism in these communities and Twitch isn’t doing enough at that level, either.
“Because right now, if you’re not a white male, gaming is not definitively safe for us.”
Streamer uhmaayyze has been on the platform for five years, and is frequently known as a hugely positive creator in the community. And yet the situation and Twitch’s lack of response to it are dispiriting to him.
“Twitch needs to update its protection and their security, it’s upsetting they let it get this far and create this disaster. They’re talking about bringing something new within in a year. I honestly don’t believe that. The fact that they’re recommending old tools that don’t do crap…I truly believe they don’t know what to do. It’s about the money at this point. Content creators and partnered content creators are getting attacked on this platform every day this month, doxxing, hate raids, addresses given to others’ channels.”
“This is something that’s need attention now.”
Will Twitch pay closer attention to the problem and its roots after A Day Off Twitch? That remains to be seen. I’ve reached out for comment and will update if I hear back. For now, their last response remains this thread from eleven days ago:
Here’s what iamBrandon has to say about that:
“Twitch has had a long history of messing things up then using general PR statements to calm down the community but usually action is not done or is taken way longer. It took them entirely too long to respond to the increase in hate raids, though this isn’t a new situation. They should have had tools to prevent this further years ago. Any statements without actions now aren’t helpful until a solution is given.”