Twitch rolls out stricter rules for sexual content and harassment

In a blog post on Thursday, Twitch announced changes to its community guidelines, specifically focused on its anti-harassment and sexual content policies. The post's introduction addresses the common recent criticism that Twitch's policies on sexual content are vague and inconsistently enforced, stating: "Over the past several months, you’ve told us certain sections of our Community Guidelines were not clear enough, or, in some cases, not strong enough to govern this ever-changing landscape. And we were too slow to act. To begin addressing this, we’re rolling out a series of updates to the policies, moderation processes, and products that guide interpersonal interaction on Twitch."

The new sexual content policy lays out guidelines for how streamers should dress: in clothing that would be appropriate for "a public street, mall, or restaurant." The same goes for profiles and channel imagery, and Twitch is also changing its "moderation framework" to consider multiple elements of a stream while judging if it's intended to be sexually suggestive. That includes looking at camera angles, emotes, overlays, and more.

You can read the full guidelines on nudity and sexual behavior here, which go into more detail: "Attire (or lack of attire) intended to be sexually suggestive includes undergarments, intimate apparel, or exposing/focusing on male or female genitals, buttocks, or nipples." The rules continue to ban games featuring nudity, sex, or sexual violence "as a core focus or feature."

While the blog post mostly focuses on the sexual content forbidden on Twitch, it also notes that "we will not tolerate using this policy as a basis to harass streamers on or off Twitch, regardless of whether you think they’re breaking this rule."

Under the new anti-harassment policy, conduct Twitch deems hateful "will result in an immediate indefinite suspension." Notably, Twitch's position on hateful content and its moderation decisions will also extend beyond Twitch.tv: "If you use other services to direct hate or harassment towards someone on Twitch, we will consider it a violation of Twitch’s policies." The most obvious connection here is behavior on social media, though it's unclear if harassing behavior on social media will have to specifically target a member of the Twitch community to be considered a violation.

Twitch's new rules go into effect on February 19th at 9:00 am Pacific time. "This is just the first of many improvements coming to the policies, moderation processes, and safety features on Twitch," the post reads. Other topics on the agenda include guidelines for non-gaming "IRL" streams, how guidelines are enforced for partner and non-partner channels, improvements to Twitch's AutoMod tools, and "preventing user-to-user harassment."