Twitch has a growing problem with channels that stream sexual content and its inability to enforce their own community guidelines. Earlier this month, Ninja, the most popular streamer in the world, announced that he was leaving Twitch to stream for Mixer exclusively. Less than two weeks later, Twitch made headlines when it was revealed that it was using Ninja's old channel to promote another channel that was streaming pornography. Ninja made a video and apologized to his fans on Twitter, claiming he had not given anyone permission to use his channel. After being called out and amidst growing negative publicity, Twitch made his old channel "offline," again, like every other offline Twitch channel. They had only done this to Ninja's channel, using it to promote other Twitch streams.
This widely publicized incident is just one in a long line and growing number of unpopular decisions Twitch has made in the past few months, and it's only partly related to the real issue with Twitch and its nudity/sexual content rule set. Forget Twitch facing backlash after announcing plans to implement subscriber-only paywalls or Twitch's association with Prime Day that was met with calls for boycott from both streamers and fans. While many have issues with what Twitch is doing on those fronts, many are even more upset with what Twitch is not doing in other corners of their industry-leading streaming platform. When streamer Alinity threw her cat on a live-stream, she made an apology video, but dealt with no punishment from Twitch despite having a history of this sort of behavior towards her pet. That is acceptable behavior according to Twitch.
The issue of sexual content on Twitch however, is the biggie, and has skyrocketed yet again this weekend when esports analyst Rod Breslau shared videos on Twitter of a channel exclusively streaming sexual content and were only taken down many hours later after Breslau brought them to the attention of the mainstream internet. Tens of thousands of viewers watched for upwards of 10 hours, and Twitch profited from this despite the stream so obviously breaking its rules.
These channels and the one involved with the Ninja controversy are far from the only examples of sexual content on Twitch. Dexerto reported in June for instance on a Korean streamer who live-streamed a trip to find a sex toy, which Twitch allowed despite its own community guidelines against such content. There are partnered channels right now breaking the sexually suggestive attire rules that were made "stricter" earlier this year. Twitch seemingly protects select streamers, while coming down hard with punishments on others for less severe infractions of the outlined guidelines.
Nudity, Pornography, and Other Sexual Content
Nudity and sexually explicit content or activities, such as pornography, sexual acts or intercourse, and sexual services, are prohibited.Content or activities that threaten or promote sexual violence or exploitation are strictly prohibited and may be reported to law enforcement. Child exploitation will be reported to authorities via the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Sexually suggestive content or activities are also prohibited, although they may be allowed in educational contexts or for pre-approved licensed content, in each case subject to additional restrictions.
Learn more about our sexual content policies and enforcement.
Twitch's response to sexual content and pornography on its platform has been to either ignore it or retroactively take the channels down hours after they are finished streaming, but the growing issue is in how it handles certain streamers versus others. A streamer named PilavPowa was banned for revealing his boxers when he jumped up and down and another streamer named AndyPyro was given a ban-warning when he viewed a supposedly violent Minecraft video. These reactions came relatively quickly when compared to other channels that streamed actual explicit sexual content for hours or even days before being noticed.
It isn't hard to see why the internet is turning against Twitch. The hypocrisy with which Twitch enforces and doesn't enforce its own rules is becoming more blatant weekly. The channels that stream sexually suggestive content undoubtedly bring in a lot of viewers, and it's obvious that Twitch wants to hold on to those viewers for as long as it can for that revenue. So, the platform is at a crossroads; they have to either allow sexual content and open a section of the site designed for this (and risk losing younger viewers) or they must fairly and transparently enforce their own rules. The only thing that's certain is that their current system isn't working, and it's only going to get worse.
For that stream Rod Breslau called out, Twitch only punished the partnered group for three days. Extreme bias, confirmed.