Earlier today, the US Capitol was overrun by far-right rioters acting in support of President Trump's baseless claims that the election of Joe Biden was fraudulent. As the building was breached, we noted that (opens in new tab) streamer HasanAbi (opens in new tab)'s commentary and cable news feeds had become the top stream on Twitch.
The day isn't over, and Twitch is relevant again for a different reason: It has responded to a tweet from fighting game personality Ryan "Gootecks" Gutierrez by removing Twitch's immensely popular PogChamp emote, which depicts his face.
In the tweet (opens in new tab), Gutierrez called for "civil unrest" on behalf of one of the rioters, a woman who was shot and killed by law enforcement inside the Capitol. Gutierrez referred to her as "the #MAGAMartyr" and characterized her death as an "execution." Twitch viewed the statement as a call for further violence by the pro-Trump mob.
"We've made the decision to remove the PogChamp emote following statements from the face of the emote encouraging further violence after what took place in the Capitol today," wrote Twitch.
"We want the sentiment and use of Pog to live on—its meaning is much bigger than the person depicted or image itself—and it has a big place in Twitch culture. However, we can't in good conscience continue to enable use of the image. We will work with the community to design a new emote for the most hype moments on Twitch."
We will work with the community to design a new emote for the most hype moments on Twitch.January 7, 2021
The PogChamp emote was one of the most popular on Twitch, and even spawned merchandise. Previously, calls to remove it in response to Gutierrez posting COVID-related conspiracy theories were ignored, but Twitch has become more proactive about blocking things recently. It's banned the Confederate flag, blackface, and unwelcome sexual comments (opens in new tab), as well as the use of words like 'simp' and 'incel' when intended as sexually disparaging insults (opens in new tab).
According to NBC (opens in new tab), three arrests were made inside the Capitol today, and improvised explosives were found. Other social media platforms have also taken steps to shut down inciting speech following the Capitol riot: Twitter locked President Trump's account (opens in new tab) for 12 hours.