Twitch is introducing a new safety measure (opens in new tab) 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.
Rolling out today: Shield Mode. Now you can strengthen your safety on stream with a single click. Shield Mode makes it easy to pre-set safety settings and helps you quickly remove harassing messages and users from chat. Learn more: https://t.co/G6mSGpS9OD pic.twitter.com/bD6wMvGZOSNovember 30, 2022
In the wake of last year's hate raids (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) and #ADayOffTwitch (opens in new tab) 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' (opens in new tab) that would help temporarily lock down a livestream.