Recently, popular gaming streaming service, Twitch has made a statement acknowledging that they are now making an effort to suspend new users’ ability to stream on the platform as it tries to fight off trolls who bombarded the site over Memorial Day weekend. It all began when some streamers joked about how little activity the corner of Twitch dedicated to Valve’s card game Artifact was seeing, leading to a fresh flurry of Artifact streams.
Trolls, of course quickly began to stream their own content on Artifact channels, often attempting to jokingly disguise their streams as “Artifact DLC” or “in queue for an Artifact” game, without actually featuring the game at all. The joke quickly spiralled out of control due to a lack of initial moderation, and throughout most of the extended holiday weekend, the Artifact directory was a nightmare zone of the worst content the internet has to offer. Dozens of Twitch users streamed pirated media, racist propaganda, hentai, hardcore pornography, depictions of self-mutilation, anime marathons, experimental memes, and in at least one instance, the recent Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist attack.
Artifact, is a popular Valve collectible card game based off the famous Dota 2 universe which mustered fans from around the world, is currently transitioning into a new mode of gameplay, and as a result, introducing a lot of new players to the game for the first time. First of all, the game’s developers have put the game on hold to examine the root issues that caused its initial release to obtain such low attraction. Additionally, like many things on the internet, its failure has become a meme, and that’s spread to the game’s presence on Twitch.
After prominent streamers pointed out how barren the Artifact section was, members of the Twitch community took advantage of the quiet and turned the section into something that ranged from bizarre to disturbing. Anyone interested in seeing the joke streams for themselves should be warned that there is some extremely NSFW or disturbing content being displayed as well.
Twitch finally addressed the matter on Tuesday, May 28, clarifying that “Over the weekend we became aware of a number of accounts targeting the ‘Artefact’ game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service,” Twitch said in a statement. “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 behaviour.
“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.”
During the event, some of the streaming content simply just fell under general meme comedy which is fairly standard among streamers, but Motherboard reported that footage of the Christchurch shooting — the New Zealand terrorist attack that spread virally on social media and left more than 50 people dead in early March — was also uploaded and streamed to the general public.
Twitch has previously dealt with people abusing its streaming platform to broadcast pirated content, like Game of Thrones episodes and pay-per-view UFC fights. Still, Twitch preventing new users from streaming demonstrates just how seriously the company is taking this.
Additionally, Twitch has also stated that they believe the efforts were an automated attack on the streaming platform.
In a statement to PC Gamer, the company explained in detail that the legal action serves to identify those involved in a concentrated effort to stream violent, pornographic, hateful, and copyrighted content on its platform. “We are pursuing litigation to identify these bad actors, and will take all appropriate actions to protect our community.” Twitch explained.
According to the lawsuit, the entire affair led to the site temporarily prohibiting new accounts from starting streams and, in the longer term, now requires new users to enable two-factor authentication ahead of starting a stream.
The lawsuit itself accuses the yet-unnamed parties (currently listed as John and Janes Does 1-100) of trademark infringement, fraud, breach of contract, and unauthorised use of its services, and is seeking restitution, damages, and legal fees from those involved.
Although Twitch has made a statement on the matter, Twitch did not say when new users will be able to stream. The moderation team is currently working to remove content.