Since the beginning of August, Twitch is grappling with an epidemic of harassment against marginalized streamers known as “hate raids.” These attacks spam streamers’ chats with hateful, fanatic language, amplified dozens of times per minute by bots. On Thursday, after a month of trying and failing to combat the tactic, Twitch took to the court system, prosecuting two alleged hate looters for “targeting black and LGBTQIA + streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist and other content.” in violation of its terms of service.
“We hope that this complaint will shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks and the tools they are exploiting, deter them from adopting similar behaviors at other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks on members of our community, ”a Twitch spokesperson said in a comment to WIRED.
Harassment based on gender, race and sexuality is not new to the 10 Year Old Game Streaming Platform; however, in the past month, targeted hate raids have escalation. Marginalized streamers receive derogatory messages – sometimes hundreds at a time – like “This channel now belongs to the KKK”. To raise awareness of hate raids and put pressure on Twitch to take action, thousands of streamers have reunited under hashtags like #TwitchDoBetter and #ADayOffTwitch, a one-day boycott of the service.
Twitch has implemented several changes aimed at mitigating hate raids. The company claims to have banned thousands of accounts over the past month, created new chat filters and implemented “channel-level ban evasion detection.” But trampling on kickers is a bit like playing mole; authors continue to create new accounts while masking their online identities to avoid liability. “The malicious actors involved were highly motivated to violate our terms of service, creating new waves of fake bot accounts designed to harass creators even as we continually update our site-wide protections against their behavior. rapidly changing, ”a Twitch spokesperson said in a comment to WIRED.
Thursday’s lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, targets two users, identified only as “Cruzzcontrol” and “CreatineOverdose,” who Twitch said are based in the Netherlands and Vienna, Austria. Twitch, in the lawsuit, says it first took “quick action” by suspending and then permanently banning their accounts. However, it is written: “They escaped Twitch bans by creating new alternate Twitch accounts and continually modifying their self-proclaimed ‘Hate Raid Code’ to avoid detection and suspension by Twitch.” The complaint alleges that Cruzzcontrol and CreatineOverdose are still operating multiple accounts on Twitch under aliases, as well as thousands of bot accounts, to conduct hate raids, and that both users claim, according to the terms of the lawsuit, that they can ” generate thousands of bots in minutes. for this purpose. ”Twitch alleges that Cruzzcontrol is responsible for approximately 3,000 bots associated with these recent heinous raids.
On August 15, the lawsuit alleges that CreatineOverdose demonstrated how their bot software “could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims the hate looters are the” KK K “. Alleges that the defendants may be part of a” hate raiding community, “which coordinates attacks on Discord and Steam.
Twitch has engaged in legal disputes with bot makers in the past. In 2016, the company sued several botmakers who artificially inflated the number of viewers and subscribers, which Twitch’s senior vice president of marketing, Matthew DiPietro, at the time. called “lingering frustration.” A California judge ruled in favor of Twitch, ordered robot makers to pay the company $ 1.3 million for breach of contract, unfair competition, violation of consumer protection law against cybersquatting, and trademark infringement. Thursday’s lawsuit can potentially help uncover the identity of the anonymous hate looters so they can face legal consequences as well.