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#ADayOffTwitch Protest Gathered Support From Big Streamers, Made Dent in Twitch Daily Traffic

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After months (really years) of marginalized creators calling for Twitch to better protect them from hate raids on stream, streamers and viewers alike began to share disturbing videos showing what it is like to experience these raids. They shared these stories under the hashtag #TwitchDoBetter and encouraged more to do the same.

Many pointed to a spring update on the platform as the source of the increased attacks. Earlier this year, Twitch expanded their tag feature to help communities find each other. Bad actors used that as a way to better target streamers who are people of color, LGBTQ+, disabled, and more. These groups began to experience increased timed raids, in which bots would flood stream chats with hateful words and slurs.

Though Twitch did respond to #TwitchDoBetter, the update resulted in little to no reduction in traffic from hate bots raiding livestreams. So, the creators of that hashtag, RekItRaven, opted for something different.

Raven, and fellow organizers LuciaEverblack and ShineyPen, called for streamers to boycott Twitch for one day to make their voices heard. They called for streamers and viewers in all communities on the platform to not log on to Twitch on September 1, 2021. With the call to action came a list of demands from Twitch.

  • Hold a roundtable discussion with affected creators to assist with the creation and implementation of more proactive and comprehensive toolsets to combat abuse on their streaming platform.
  • Create proactive protection to be implemented immediately, enabling creators to select the account age of prospective chatters and allow or deny incoming raids.
  • Remove the ability to attach more than three Twitch accounts to one email address. Current hate raiders can use one email account to register unlimited accounts.
  • Provide transparency into the action being taken to protect creators, the timeframe for implementing those tools, and the involvement of the Twitch Safety Advisory Council.

Leading up to the day off, there were lots of medium-size to small creators taking part, but the movement was not without its critics. Black music producer and streamer DeTune said this was giving the trolls what they wanted and their time would be better spent livestreaming a protest. He has spoken up about the harassment on Twitch before. DeTune criticized the platform for not limiting the use of the N-word in chat and choosing instead to focus on words that target someone’s sexual activity like “simp” and “virgin.”

While DeTune’s reasons were thought out, others like popular streamer Asmongold opted out for a different reason.

As a streamer with over 2 million followers and nothing to lose from marginalized creators being raided by bots, he could have voiced support or stayed silent. Instead, he chose to say it was pointless, everyone participating was a nobody, and if some bigger streamers joined, of course he would join. He just refused to be the first one to take the leap and join in on the single-day boycott.

This sort of backfired, because Amsongold’s refusal to join in unless bigger streamers joined first is how this story came across my timeline last week.

September 1 

When the day came around, it turns out many, many big names were there to call attention to this massive issue on Twitch.

While, in gaming spaces, Kinda Funny Games announced their support ahead of the event, many gaming and tabletop streamers announced their support the day of.

One of the biggest streamer on the platform, Auronplay (with over 9 million followers on Twitch), announced that both he and the TortillaLand Minecraft Server would participate in #ADayOffTwitch.

It wasn’t just Twitch giants in the gaming space that helped lift Raven’s and others’ message. Leftist political commentator Hasan Piker (1.5 million followers on Twitch), who frequently calls attention to unionizing and Twitch owner Amazon’s influence, joined the boycott, as well.

Not everyone who wanted to take the day off could. For example, Motherlands RPG posted that they were contractually obligated to go live that day, but supported everyone who joined the boycott. One streamer used that time to create another tool (beyond what Stream Deck offered) to help marginalized streamers address hate raids. This is a Twitch issue not to be put on streamers to fix. However, it is inspiring to see people make these tweaks to the experience.

The activity and articles prompted Twitter to create a Moment about the trending hashtag. That gave both quick context and showed support garnered by streamers iamBrandon, Will Smith (not to be confused with the actor), and GernanderJake. This is on top of coverage from us, The Verge, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Kotaku, Wired, NME, Yahoo News, and more.

Twitch viewers dip

Early data shows that there was a dip in viewers from the #ADayOffTwitch boycott, but there is not a complete agreement as to how many.

Sully Gnome reported that September 1 became the 3rd-lowest daily viewership this year, after New Year’s Day and June 28th (possibly due to the rolling blackouts on that day in the U.S.).

Because August and September tend to dip in numbers due to many students going back to school and university, some may dismiss this as just the streaming cycle. However, this is more than that because numbers reset September 2, and that dip was very sharp and not a lowering slope.

The conservative estimated show a 5.4% difference in traffic, but many estimates are giving 7-12%. This was on the first day of SUBtember (an annual drive to push for paid subscriptions to streamers, in which Twitch takes 50%).

Really, it shouldn’t take a big show of not using the platform to get Twitch’s attention. I say this even though Twitch has not acknowledged #ADayOffTwitch and barely acknowledged #TwitchDoBetter. These callouts will continue by creators like Raven and others who joined (or wanted to but couldn’t) until Twitch makes active changes resembling that list of demands and does right by its most vulnerable creators.

(Feature image: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)

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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.