It’s been a tough week for Twitch, which earlier this week announced a new Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy that would be introduced into the platform’s community guidelines next month. While efforts towards making Twitch a safer space for all are welcome, the streaming community has criticised and mocked the platform’s leadership for its singling out of words such as “simp”, “incel”, and “virgin” during a Twitch Town Hall stream.
While the new policy doesn’t come into play until January 22, 2021, many users and streamers have reacted negatively to its announcement or have straight up mocked Twitch, despite the platform attempting to do more to prevent online harassment and toxicity.
The term “simp”, in particular, has been the focus of a lot of this, with Atlanta FaZe’s Call of Duty pro Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr expressing concern about the future of his in-game name and science YouTuber Michael ‘Vsauce’ Stevens joking that he won’t be able to stream about ‘strongly interacting massive particles’.
Following a few days of uncertainty, Twitch has now attempted to clarify its position on words such as simp. In a tweet, Twitch reassures that the platform does not have a “blanket ban” on the words brought up during the Town Hall stream and says its OK to use the terms in “casual banter”. It does though reinforce that action will be taken if the terms are used “to harass or harm community members.”
We do not have a blanket ban on the use of words like “simp” in casual banter, but will take action when words like this (amongst others) are used to harass and harm community members.
Check out our hateful conduct and harassment policy to learn more: https://t.co/rT9QAC6zcZ
— Twitch (@Twitch) December 18, 2020
Digging further into the new policy, Twitch again clarifies that “using these terms on their own wouldn’t lead to enforcement but we would take action if they were used repeatedly in a harassing manner.”
But even all of this clarification has drawn criticism. One of Twitch’s biggest streamers, ‘Asmongold’, says that by singling out certain terms but also saying there isn’t a blanket ban, the result will be “selective enforcement.”
While the full policy is extensive and wide-reaching in the different types of harassment it now covers, it appears that streamers’ reactions to the focusing on certain words has overshadowed this move in the right direction.