In the wake of numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the videogame industry, Twitch has announced that it is reviewing cases related to streamers as quickly as possible, with a priority on "the most severe cases," and will begin issuing permanent suspensions immediately where warranted.
"In many of the cases, the alleged incident took place off Twitch, and we need more information to make a determination. In some cases we will need to report the case to the proper authorities who are better placed to conduct a more thorough investigation," Twitch said in a statement. It also committed to ensuring "appropriate due diligence" in its investigations.
"For those who’ve come forward and would like to share additional information, and to anyone who hasn’t shared their experience and wants to do so, you can report confidentially through the reporting tools on each streamer’s channel page," the statement said.
Twitch also committed to increasing its efforts to ensure that its platform is safe for everyone. Its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policies are being reviewed, improvements are being made to its offensive username detection, AutoMod, and banned words list, and new projects "focused on reducing harassment and hateful conduct" are also in the works.
As documented by the StreamerBans Twitter feed, the hammer has already fallen on a number of streamers including BlessRNG and iamsp00n, who both acknowledged their misconduct, and WarwitchTV, who deleted his Twitter account after being accused—with screen captures of conversations—of grooming a teenager.
The reaction to Twitch's update so far seems cautiously optimistic. Stronger policies and enforcement are clearly a step in the right direction, but questions remain about how they'll be enforced. Several people on Twitter claimed that harassment reports they've made in the past have gone ignored, while others expressed concern that top-tier streamers may get preferential treatment.
Twitch's policies regarding bans has been opaque in the past: Guy Beahm, aka DrDisrespect, was suspended from Twitch last year after livestreaming from a bathroom at E3, for instance, but the suspension was reversed after two weeks, while Luke "MrDeadMoth" Munday, who allegedly assaulted his pregnant partner during a Fortnite stream, was also given just two weeks, although it was made permanent following an outcry against his reinstatement.
"Those who have come forward have shown incredible strength, vulnerability, and bravery. We acknowledge that we can’t singlehandedly tackle pervasive issues across the gaming and broader internet communities, but we take our responsibility as a service for our community seriously," Twitch said. "We will continue to assess accusations against people affiliated with Twitch and explore ways Twitch can collaborate with other industry leaders on this important issue."
Update: The post originally stated that WarwitchTV was in his 20s at the time he's accused of grooming a teen. Several readers have pointed out that he was actually much older. The reference to his age has been removed.