Top 5: Ideas Twitch Can Adopt To Curb Racism

Overwatch 2016-05-06 05-39-24-40

Today must be a day ending in ‘day,’ because Dreamhack has come and gone and the internet has once again shown itself to be a cesspool of racism and harassment. In the wake of people piling on to the Hearthstone stream to throw racist comments at finalist Terrance Miller, both Blizzard and Twitch have committed to reducing problematic behavior on the platform.

Is there ultimately any difference between someone who posts racist remarks with the goal of trolling/harassment and someone who posts them because they are genuinely racist? Probably not, both are equally disruptive and in need of being stamped down. Because MMO Fallout’s modus operandi is to help solve problems rather than just point them out, I’ve decided to compile a list of ways Twitch can curb harmful behavior.

5. Prevent New Accounts From Using Chat

This one is simple and links in with one or two other suggestions on this list. Many MMOs already do this to curb gold farming, where accounts are not allowed to use chat or access certain trade/communication features until after they’ve hit a certain level. It doesn’t stop the problem completely, but it does lower the ability of people to mass produce burner accounts.

How would this system work with Twitch? You could theoretically introduce a minimum waiting period anywhere from a day to a week or more before an account can access chat. Said waiting period could be removed with the inclusion of two-factor authentication.

4. New Chat Mode: Authenticated

Right now there are only a few chat modes available to Twitch streamers, from subscriber only to off completely. Since Twitch already has two-factor authentication, it wouldn’t be that difficult to implement a chat mode allowing subscribers and non-subscribers that have been authenticated to chat.

Two-factor authentication also means that you have an outside identity tied to the account, be it a phone number or the hardware ID of the mobile device. This would give Twitch the ability to ban all accounts associated with that phone number/device and prevent it from being used to sign up for a new account for a period of time.

Valve already does this with Counter Strike: GO, where a ban will blacklist that person’s phone number for three months and ban all accounts associated with it.

3. Turn Off Chat For Big Events

This is a copout and not suggestion that actually fixes the problem, but right now it seems to be one of the easiest conclusions. Look at it this way, with tens of thousands of people watching these events, is having them all in one central chat room really logical? Imagine packing an entire stadium worth of people into one room letting them drown each other out. Then have a team of ten people try and keep the conversation in line. Impossible, right?

As much as I’m sure event organizers don’t want to use them, there are already systems in place on Twitch to aleviate these problems. Slow chat, subscriber-only, turning chat off, all of these are useful tools. The moderators of Dreamhack even admitted that they made mistakes, with moderators overwriting each other’s decisions.

2. Shadow Bans

Simple, efficient, and taking a card from Reddit’s book. If you aren’t familiar with a shadow ban, it is a special type of punishment where the poster can see his own messages but no one else can. The problem on Reddit is that it becomes readily apparent rather quickly that you’ve been shadow banned, as all of a sudden your posts stop receiving up-votes and replies.

The program works more effectively when the user can’t gauge reactions or isn’t paying attention to them, which is why it is a good idea for Twitch. When someone is shouting into the void (or in this case wall of text moving at 100mph), odds are they aren’t looking for a response. Banning outright tells the player to create a new account, by shadow banning they can go on for hours without realizing that no one is listening.

1. Unify Bans

I like to think of this method as the nuclear option, it is probably the most effective method while simultaneously capable of causing untold destruction with widespread nuclear fallout. It requires a collaboration by a group of people whose opinions and judgement can be trusted.

In short, a recipe for disaster.

How far you want to go with this depends on how much you really want to stomp down bad behavior. For instance, should Dreamhack share bans across all of its streams? Should Dreamhack partner with other associations to share bans? Would regular streamers have access to the ban list? Who decides who is added to the list?

It’s certainly a question, one that requires a lot of thought and planning, but one that could work.

Can toxic behavior be controlled on Twitch? Let us know in the comments below.

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