Reddit and Twitch Protests may Only Be the Beginning

Although #ADayOffTwitch was organized in its own right, dozens upon dozens of blackouts on subreddits showed the power of collective action from users.

How much power do users have to influence the ways tech companies govern their platforms? Two platform-shaking initiatives were coordinated by prominent Reddit and Twitch users this week with the aim of improving the safety and security in the spaces where they live and work. At least in the second case it seems they have already achieved results.

Top streamers took to Twitch Wednesday to strike under #ADayOffTwitch in an effort to force the company to stop harassing marginalized streamers. Reddit moderators shut down dozens subreddits to protest Covid misinformation policies. WIRED spoke with organizers who were cautiously optimistic about their efforts to spur positive change.

Raven, a Twitch streamer says that “Maybe” she is a dreamer. I think it’s important to accept the possibility of being able make real change for ourselves.

Raven, who goes by RekItRaven on Twitch, helped lead Wednesday’s #ADayOffTwitch initiative in response to an epidemic of harassment on the platform known as hate raids–a huge, often coordinated bot attack that floods streamers’ text chats with bigoted vitriol. Over the last month, trolls and their bots have regularly entered Raven’s Twitch channel and filled their chat with derogatory language, including messages like “This channel now belongs to the KKK.” Harassers have targeted and published Black streamers’ addresses and personal information, too, leading to reported incidents of doxxing. While hate raids have been a perennial issue on Twitch, the problem has dramatically escalated over the past month.

Last month Raven launched the hashtag #TwitchDoBetter to pressure Twitch to prevent the bot accounts from harassing them. Soon after, Twitch acknowledged the problem, tweeting on August 11 that “we know we need to do more to address these issues.” The company added that they were able to “identify a vulnerability” in its filter system and rolled out an update to more comprehensively identify hate speech. The hate attacks continued.

Raven feels exhausted but knows it’s unfair for them or other streamers to have to choose between their passions and their mental well-being. Hate raids could also impact streaming income for those whose livelihoods are dependent on it. Tanya DePass, a Twitch streamer who goes by CypherOfTyr, has limited her streaming from two to four days a week to just one or two. It is a question she asks: “What job could take 50% of your earnings, and do literally nothing other than protect you? Here are these tools we now see these bot-creators and raiders easily navigate.” (Twitch). href=”https://www.polygon.com/2018/6/25/17502380/monteization-youtube-channel-memberships-patreon-twitch-affiliate-partner#:~:text=Twitch%20currently%20operates%20on%20an,charge%20%244.99%2C%20%249.99%20and%20%2424.99.” rel=”nofollow noopener” target=”_blank”>takes a 50 percent cut of Partnered streamers’ subscription revenue. It is not clear how revenue for donations to the platform will be split.

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