Did Twitch Go Too Far? The Content Policy U-Turn

December 20, 2023

Welcome to Stream Report, a newsletter from Gaming Careers covering important news and updates in streaming and content creation.

In this issue: We're unpacking Twitch's contentious policy reversal and dissecting the suite of updates aimed at streamer discovery and collaboration.

Twitch Takes a Tumble: The Reversal of Content Policy Changes

Twitch Takes a Tumble The Reversal of Content Policy Changes
Twitch Takes a Tumble: The Reversal of Content Policy Changes

Twitch’s ongoing content policy revisions have been the center of much debate in the streaming community. Let’s unpack the recent policy changes and the subsequent reversal by the platform:

Policy Adjustments and Community Feedback

On December 14, Twitch attempted to introduce more leniency in their content guidelines, allowing certain content previously banned, as long as it was properly labeled with a Content Classification Label (CCL). This content included:

  • Drawn or animated nudity
  • Body writing
  • Erotic dances

Angela Hession, Twitch’s Chief Customer Trust Officer, cited the need for clearer rules and consistent enforcement in response to streamer feedback on the ambiguity of past policies.

Twitch’s Swift Reversal

The policy expansion was short-lived. Within a day, Twitch walked back its decision on digital depictions of nudity after acknowledging the community’s apprehensions:

“Much of the content created has been met with community concern,[…] These are concerns we share. Upon reflection, we have decided that we went too far with this change. Digital depictions of nudity present a unique challenge — AI can be used to create realistic images, and it can be hard to distinguish between digital art and photography.”


Twitch’s Oversight

Twitch’s history with policy ambiguity has often led to controversy, and this incident is no different. The platform’s intentions to improve clarity were needed, but the execution was flawed.

At the very least, Twitch should have ensured NSFW streams were excluded from the homepage and given users the ability to filter out these streams entirely before changing the policy. It’s astonishing that Twitch didn’t foresee the potential for AI to be misused in creating nudity that could pass as “art.”

Controversies like this not only affect Twitch’s image but also shape public perception of what it means to be a streamer or viewer on the platform.

Homepage Criteria Refinement

In addition to policy changes, Twitch has refined its criteria for homepage recommendations. The platform now excludes streams with content involving drugs, graphic violence, gambling, or sexual themes, aiming to align with viewer expectations.

Learn More

Twitch Tools: A Look at Recent Platform Updates

Twitch Tools A Look at Recent Platform Updates
Twitch Tools: A Look at Recent Platform Updates

Twitch has been busy tweaking its toolkit, rolling out updates that aim to enhance the way streamers present content and interact with viewers. Here’s a rundown of what’s new and a slice of my thoughts on these changes.

The Featured Clips feature has been revamped to make it easier for streamers, editors, and eligible moderators to feature Clips. Twitch’s goal is to give streamers a leg up in discovery spaces, offering more control over which clips represent their channel. It’s a step towards personalizing how you’re seen on Twitch, but it hinges on streamers making the most of this curation power.

Discovery Feed: A Split View

The Discovery Feed is now split into two tabs: “Live” and “Clips.” The idea is to streamline the browsing experience, but swiping through live streams in a vertical format? I’m skeptical. The upside is the ability to convert clips into vertical videos for the feed, which could be a game-changer—if streamers actually use it.

Stream Together: Collaboration Reimagined

Stream Together, formerly known as “Guest Star,” is stepping in as Twitch discontinues Squad Stream. With less than 1% of partnered streams using Squad Stream, it’s clear a change was needed. Now, even Affiliates can get in on the beta action. Twitch, and CEO Dan Clancey, in particular, seem all-in on collaboration tools like this. It’s evident they’re doubling down on the idea that collaborative streams are where it’s at.

Twitch Stories Adds Familiar Social Flavors

Twitch Stories is getting an update that feels… familiar. Tagging, mentions, and reaction insights are being added—features we’ve already seen on platforms like Instagram. It’s not exactly an innovation, but it’s a necessary step for Twitch to stay relevant in the social storytelling space.

Closing Thoughts: Twitch is clearly trying to evolve, offering streamers more ways to manage how they’re seen and to collaborate. While some updates seem promising, others feel like they’re playing catch-up. It’s a mix of potential and predictability. As these features roll out, we’ll see if they truly resonate with the community or if they’ll just blend into the background.

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The founder of Gaming Careers with a borderline unhealthy obsession for cameras, microphones, and all things streaming. He gets mistaken for Stephen Merchant at least 5 times a day.

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