Getting Absurd: Twitch Creates A 'Hot Tub' Channel, Says It Should Have Communicated With Streamers About Demonitization
from the sigh dept
Twitch seems to be putting on some sort of master class in how to respond to a crisis on its platform in as confusing a manner as possible. Without writing a thousand word summary, this whole thing started when Twitch nuked a bunch of streamer content in response to a backlog of DMCA notices, changed its affiliate program without notice, hung its streamers out to dry over the DMCAs when the backlash occurred, and basically angered the hell out of its most important asset, it’s creative community. This basically set the theme for the public that Twitch wasn’t treating its community very well.
This continued to the present. Most recently, we discussed one streamer suddenly having her channel demonitized, ostensibly over so called “hot tub meta” streams, in which she appears in a bathing suit in a hot tub. While Twitch can do as it pleases with its platform, the real issue here was that all of this was done without any communication or notice from Twitch to the streamer, who goes by the handle Amouranth. Well, it turns out that she wasn’t alone in having her channel suddenly demonitized in this fashion.
The company also addressed the recent controversy surrounding the sudden, uncommunicated demonetization of Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa’s channel, which took place earlier this week in reaction to complaints which Siragusa says came from from a single advertiser (Siragusa told Kotaku in an email that Twitch would not say which advertiser). Twitch’s post seems to dispute this characterization, instead attributing it to “the majority of our advertiser base.” Siragusa, however, was not alone. Sources have since told Kotaku that a number of streamers had advertising removed from their channels, though it seems that not all of them noticed or said anything publicly. This has alarmed Twitch streamers, who are now in the dark as to what’s considered advertiser-friendly content and what’s not—meaning they, too, are at risk of suddenly not being able to make money off Twitch ads anymore. In the blog post, Twitch did not do much to assuage their fears, but it did confirm that demonetization is a thing that can happen now.
“On Twitch, brands get to decide where and when their ads appear,” the company wrote. “Today, they can target or avoid specific categories of content and flag channels that don’t meet their standards. This means that Twitch, in rare cases, will suspend advertising on a channel at the advertisers’ request. We absolutely do not permit brands to use protected characteristics as a filter for advertising targeting or blocking.”
Note that this is all communication that occurred after the fact. Acknowledging that, Twitch specifically stated that the way it had treated Amouranth was a “mistake.” As was the lack of communication with all of the other streamers who had their channels demonitized. As was not getting the communication about what control advertisers had over channels receiving ad revenue until after all this occurred. Mistake after mistake, all of which quite frankly appear to be conscious decisions rather than oopsies.
And, in an almost exact replication of the ready-fire-aim method Twitch employed for its DMCA debacle, the company’s remedy for this now is to roll out more tools for advertisers and creators to avoid this situation that should have been avoided with those tools in the first place.
To remedy this and other issues, Twitch said it’s “working to develop more robust controls for advertisers and viewers to enable them to control their experiences on our service.” It’s also working on figuring out how to communicate to streamers what exactly “brand safe” means, but this functionality will apparently “take time to build and implement.”
The other plan Twitch has coming out of this latest situation is, and I cannot stress enough that this is real, the introduction of “hot tub” channels and the like.
In a new blog post today, Twitch announced that it has created a new category: “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches.” Previously, hot tub streamers largely used the catch-all Just Chatting category, which led some streamers and viewers to accuse them of somehow breaking the rules—despite the fact that they were not actually breaking Twitch’s rules. In the blog post, Twitch clarified this.
“While we have guidelines about sexually suggestive content, being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness,” the company wrote, adding that it discourages harassment against all streamers regardless of their actions or intentions. “Under our current Nudity & Attire and Sexually Suggestive Content policies, streamers may appear in swimwear in contextually appropriate situations (at the beach, in a hot tub, for example), and we allow creative expression like body writing and body painting, provided the streamer has appropriate coverage as outlined by our attire policy.”
So, Amouranth did nothing wrong as far as Twitch is concerned, but it still demonitized her channel at the request of “advertisers” for reasons never fully articulated, not against Twitch’s rules, without notice or communication, and with an almost perfect lack of transparency. But, hey, here’s a new hot tub category for you all to stream in? The only real use I see for that is I can finally pitch Mike on my idea for a speedo-clad Twitch Techdirt stream where I yell about beer trademarks in a kiddie pool.
This is where I remind you that Twitch is an Amazon property and has hefty resources to pull from to do its platform and PR right. It just doesn’t seem to want to and the one left holding the proverbial bag is its creative community.