Twitch battles hate raids with new emergency 'Shield Mode'

A laptop and phone displaying the Twitch logo.
(Image credit: NurPhoto via Getty.)

 Twitch is introducing a new safety measure to protect its streamers against hate raids and other forms of mass harassment.

Shield Mode is a one-click emergency button that allows streamers and mods to instantly apply a host of safety tools, both new and existing on the platform. These settings can be tweaked and customised in advance and then implemented at the push of a button or a slash command. Shield Mode can switch the chat to follower or sub-only instantly, turn on chat verification options and increase the level of the AutoMod tool.

It's also introducing a few new safety features: mass bans and the ability to prevent first-time chatters from sending messages. The first one will let streamers and mods bulk-ban people using specific words or phrases that are flagged while Shield Mode is activated. These bans can also be reviewed or reversed, or the offending users further reported to Twitch. The "no first-time chatters" channel mode is also new and, as the name implies, prevents anyone who hasn't previously sent a message on a streamer's channel from talking.

Once any particularly rough periods are over, Shield Mode can be toggled off and the standard stream settings restored. Twitch says it hopes "this tool will make it easier to instantly shut down a hate raid" when one occurs. It also points out that the tool may be handy for other scenarios, such as moments where a streamer is handling a sensitive topic or if they end up on the front page and don't want any unsavoury attention.

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In the wake of last year's hate raids, Twitch had originally suggested that those hit hardest lock up their streams. As the platform now acknowledges, permanently implementing those sorts of measures can hamper growth. It was especially impacting LGBTQ+ and Black streamers who "often need online visibility the most" and were "disproportionately targeted by hate raids." Twitch says it'll be "focusing more on features, like this one, that are customizable and can easily be ramped up or down" to reflect what streamers need in the moment, as well as "working aggressively to stop more harm before it ever occurs."

Hate raids came into prominence last summer— hundreds or thousands of bots and real people would flood a streamer's channel and bombard the chat with a multitude of slurs, insults and other incredibly unpleasant things. Hashtags like #TwitchDoBetter and #ADayOffTwitch gained traction, encouraging streamers to stay offline in order to send the platform a message. Twitch eventually introduced a "phone-verified chat" option for streamers, while companies like Streamlabs offered their own 'panic button' that would help temporarily lock down a livestream. 

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.