Twitch has filed a lawsuit against two "hate raiders" who it says have persistently targeted marginalized streamers with "racist, sexist, and homophobic language and content" despite its efforts to stop them. The exact identities of the hate raiders are not currently known—they're referred to by aliases CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose—but both are believed to reside in Europe.
"Hate raids" are organized attacks on Twitch channels in which bots flood chats with slurs, threats, and abuse. It's been a problem for months, but didn't come to widespread attention until August, when streamers planned a one-day boycott of the platform, using the #ADayOffTwitch hashtag to protest what they saw as Twitch's lack of meaningful action to solve the problem. And it worked: Even though few big-name streamers took part, Twitch saw a significant decline in viewership on the day of the protest.
Twitch has promised to implement new security measures to help streamers deal with hate raids, but as streamer ArtForTheApocalypse demonstrated in August, dealing with determined hate raiders is extremely difficult. Twitch effectively acknowledged its current vulnerability in its lawsuit, saying that the defendants were able to evade bans "by creating new, alternate Twitch accounts, and continually altering their self-described 'hate raid code' to avoid detection and suspension by Twitch."
"Despite Twitch’s best efforts, the hate raids continue," the lawsuit states. "On information and belief, Defendants created software code to conduct hate raids via automated means. And they continue to develop their software code to avoid Twitch’s efforts at preventing Defendants’ bots from accessing the Twitch Services."
Twitch echoed that point in a statement sent to PC Gamer, saying that the "highly motivated" hate raiders are "creating new waves of fake bot accounts designed to harass creators even as we continually update our sitewide protections against their rapidly evolving behaviors."
"While we have identified and banned thousands of accounts over the past weeks, these actors continue to work hard on creative ways to circumvent our improvements, and show no intention of stopping," a Twitch spokesperson said. "We hope this complaint will shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks and the tools that they exploit, dissuade them from taking similar behaviors to other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community."
The lawsuit seeks a legally-binding injunction that will prohibit the defendants from using Twitch, as well as various sorts of damages and legal fees. But it has some high hurdles to clear before it gets there, including determining the real identities of the defendants, who are currently known only as CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose. That in itself may not be a major issue—lawsuits are often filed against anonymous "Does" (Bungie and Ubisoft's joint suit against cheat-makers, for instance, names 50 of them)—but there may also be jurisdictional issues, as CruzzControl is believed to be a resident of the Netherlands, while CreatineOverdose is from Austria.
Still, it's a move on Twitch's part that could serve as a meaningful deterrent to other hate raiders regardless of its outcome. RekItRaven, the streamer who got the hate raid awareness ball rolling in August with the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag, said on Twitter that the lawsuit isn't a solution to the problem of hate raids in itself, but it's "a start, and a good one."
"Just like #ADayOffTwitch was a message, this is too," tweeted RekItRaven. "You shouldn't be fearless behind a keyboard. There are consequences."
Twitch said it is continuing to work on "new proactive, channel-level safety tools that we’ve been developing for months," and also hinted that further legal actions could follow this one. "This Complaint is by no means the only action we’ve taken to address targeted attacks," the rep said, "nor will it be the last."
Twitch's lawsuit is available in full on Scribd.