Since the beginning of August, Twitch has been battling an epidemic of bullying, known as “hate forays,” against marginalized streamers. These attacks on the chats of spammers with hateful and intolerant language, amplified dozens of times per minute by bots. On Thursday, after a month trying and unable to combat the tactic, Twitch turned to the legal system, suing two alleged hate assailants [PDF] for “targeting black and LGBTQIA + broadcasters with racist, homophobic, sexist and other harassing content” in violation of their terms of service.
“We hope this complaint sheds light on the identity of the people behind these attacks and the tools they exploit, discourages them from bringing similar behaviors to other services, and helps put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community.” A Twitch spokesperson said in a comment to WIRED.
Harassment on the grounds of gender, race and sexuality is not new to the game streaming platform of 10 years ago; However, over the past month, hate raids targeted intensified. Marginalized streamers receive derogatory messages, sometimes hundreds at a time, such as “This channel now belongs to the KKK.” To raise awareness of hate raids and pressure Twitch to take action, thousands of streamers have United under hashtags like #TwitchDoBetter and #ADayOffTwitch, a one-day boycott of the service.
Twitch has instituted several changes aimed at mitigating hate forays. The company says it has banned thousands of accounts in the last month, created new chat filters, and has been building “channel-level ban evasion detection.” But trampling the botters is a bit like playing whack-a-mole; perpetrators continue to make new accounts while hiding their identities online to avoid accountability. “The malicious actors involved have been highly motivated to break our Terms of Service, creating new waves of fake bot accounts designed to harass Creators, even as we continually update our site-wide protections against their rapidly evolving behaviors,” he said. a Twitch spokesperson in a comment to CON CABLE.
Thursday’s lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, targets two users, identified only as “Cruzzcontrol” and “CreatineOverdose,” which Twitch believes are based, respectively. , in the Netherlands and Vienna, Austria. Twitch, in the lawsuit, says it initially took “swift action” by suspending and then permanently banning their accounts. However, he says, “They circumvented Twitch bans by creating new alternate Twitch accounts and continually modifying their self-described ‘hate raid code’ to avoid detection and suspension by Twitch.” The complaint alleges that Cruzzcontrol and CreatineOverdose still operate multiple aliased Twitch accounts, as well as thousands of bot accounts, to conduct hate forays, and that both users claim, in the words of the lawsuit, that they can “spawn thousands of bots on minutes. for this purpose. ” Twitch alleges that Cruzzcontrol is responsible for some 3,000 bots associated with these recent hate raids.
On August 15, the lawsuit alleges, CreatineOverdose demonstrated how its bot software “could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic depictions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the ‘KK. K ‘”. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants may be part of a “hate raid community,” which coordinates attacks on Discord and Steam.
Twitch has gotten into legal fights with bot creators in the past. In 2016, the company sued several bot makers who artificially inflated the number of viewers and followers, which Twitch’s senior vice president of marketing, Matthew DiPietro, at the time called “A persistent frustration.” A California judge ruled in favor of Twitch, order bot creators to pay the company $ 1.3 million for breach of contract, unfair competition, violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, and trademark violation. Thursday’s lawsuit can potentially help uncover the identities of the anonymous hate assailants so they can face legal consequences as well.
“I’m feeling hopeful,” says Raven, a streamer who uses RekItRaven on Twitch. Raven has been outspoken about the incursions of hate they continue to suffer and helped coordinate the #TwitchDoBetter and #ADayOffTwitch movements. “The people behind this must be held accountable for their actions. They have terrorized hundreds, if not thousands of people. If this happened in a physical location, we would expect the same. It shouldn’t be any different online. “
This story originally appeared in wired.com.