Twitch will ban users for serious offline misconduct

Users of social media have long risked being booted from those services for misbehavior like harassment and violent threats. But whatever those users engaged in offline only narrowly factored into whether social media companies would ban them.

But now livestreaming service Twitch is upending that relative safe space. It said on Wednesday that it would suspend or terminate users who are involved in “severe misconduct” such as belonging to known hate groups or threatening mass violence even if the activity occurs outside of the service.

The service will still target misconduct that takes place both on and off of Twitch. The updated policy adds a second category to tackle misconduct that doesn’t happen on Twitch at all.

Twitch says it will respond to “serious offenses that pose a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community, even if these actions occur entirely off Twitch,” with a focus “on behaviors that have the greatest potential to harm our community.” Those include acts of deadly violence and violent extremism, terrorist activity, explicit or credible threats of mass violence, sexual exploitation of minors and sexual assault and abuse. Twitch gave other examples of instances under which it would take action, such as threats against an in-person Twitch event or the company and its staff.

Twitch wrote in a blog post that investigations of these kinds of actions are typically much more complex and require more resources than misconduct that happens on Twitch. “For behaviors that take place off Twitch, we must rely more heavily on law enforcement and other services to share relevant evidence before we can move forward,” Twitch said. The company may later expand the policy to cover more types of misconduct. It notes that it has taken action in the past over “serious, clear misconduct” that took place off of the platform, but it hasn’t had a scalable approach until now.

Twitch has brought in a third-party investigations law firm to help it respond to reports of off-platform misconduct. It created a dedicated email address for reporting such actions as well: [email protected] Twitch says anything sent to the email address will be treated confidentially and shared only with a small number of Twitch employees and the law firm. Users who submit large numbers of fake or frivolous reports, or encourage others to send them, will be suspended from Twitch.

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