Twitch's Artifact category has become a wasteland of porn, memes, and worse

The collapse of Valve's CCG Artifact was remarkable enough in itself, but it's had an unexpected side effect on Twitch. The Artifact category was effectively abandoned to become a digital wasteland, almost entirely devoid of viewers. Nobody was paying attention—and as so often happens when nobody's looking, somebody started causing trouble. 

The category was—and is—filled with streams, but virtually none of them are actually related to Artifact. Instead, it's everything but, including porn, because there's always porn. Disturbingly, video of the mass murder at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand ran for more than 30 minutes before finally being pulled, according to esports consultant Rod Breslau.

"Over the weekend we became aware of a number of accounts targeting the Artifact game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service," a Twitch rep said. "Our investigations uncovered that the majority of accounts that shared and viewed the content were automated accounts. We are working with urgency to remove the offending content and suspend all accounts engaged in this behavior. In addition, we have temporarily suspended the ability for new creators to stream. We take these violations very seriously and are taking measures to prevent this kind of coordinated activity on our service in the future."

Despite the effort, porn is at this moment still popping up in the category, as are other more nonsensical streams and videos—everything from Pepe memes to some guy putting the boots to a big piece of plywood while surrounded by Stella Artois clip art. (Is that a meme? I honestly have no idea.) I have a feeling that there are some seal clubbing video in there too, but I'm not about to click on that.   

Basically, it's a train wreck. The whole thing would be kind of funny if it were good-natured, but the inclusion of the horrific terrorism in Christchurch precludes that. 

It also highlights the challenge Twitch faces in keeping such a tremendous number of channels moderated, and the ways that its efforts can fall short: Twitch is clearly taking aggressive steps to shut down the worst offenders (I've been watching streams get shut down in real time for a while now) but porn streams and other off-topic streams continue to pop up. It's a war of attrition that Twitch will surely win, but at what cost?

There are at least a couple of streams of people actually playing Artifact, but some of those are likely camouflage for more terms-breaking content: One stream ran perfectly innocuous gameplay for about 30 seconds before suddenly and without warning switching to furry hentai. Consider yourself warned.

If you're looking to start a more wholesome Twitch channel, check out our beginner's guide to Twitch streaming.