Trans Twitch streamer Anne Atomic has spoken out against the platform after she was banned following a transphobic pile-on.
Raided by transphobes who mass reported her, Atomic believes she is the victim of Twitch’s algorithm, suggesting it auto-banned her due to the number of complaints.
But what can be done to combat this, to ensure trans people and other minorities are supported on platforms relying on algorithms?
“I see it as an issue with potentially far broader implications than just trans people, we are just among the most likely recipients of the extremely flawed systems surrounding Twitch and other large tech companies,” she says.
Relying on user report-based algorithms “disproportionately affects transgender users because they are a group very likely to draw the hate on platforms, especially when they have any modicum of success”, Anne Atomic adds.
Despite appealing the indefinite ban, Atomic has had no word from Twitch beyond an automated response.
For the average person, “removals of their content or bans are going to almost all fall on deaf ears. This seems like discrimination to me that is going to especially affect transgender people,” says Atomic.
What’s more, Atomic believes Twitch has unfair power over the content created on the platform.
“There are basically no protections in place and it essentially puts creators at the total mercy of Twitch. The fact that there is no actual real competition intensifies this issue,” she says.
“Many streamers base their entire lives and livelihoods around the platform, and at their own whims [Twitch] can eliminate anyone from being able to use the platform. Worse yet, this is often done again by user-reports and algorithms with limited or no actual human interaction (as was likely with me).
“They wield overly vague community guidelines and rules, refuse to give any clarity whatsoever when rules are broken (instead they give a very general list of “possibilities”), and never comment or give any sort of transparency, let alone chances to rectify issues.
“This is all insane when you really look at it and realize how many people are basing their entire futures on this.”
This could soon change, however. A California court will soon rule on Twitch’s ban policy, forcing them to more clearly define reasons for suspensions.
This stems from a lawsuit filed against Twitch by streamer James ‘PhantomL0rd’ Vargas after a lifetime ban – a case the streamer initially won in April this year, but is pushing forward to demand Twitch make changes to its suspension policies and protect streamers in future.
The requests made by PhantomL0rd’s legal team include Twitch providing notice of the reason for a ban along with an opportunity to cure the alleged wrongdoing, as well as stopping the use of generic language in bans.
Atomic feels this would be a step in the right direction.
“This would essentially make them unable to just do the “no reason” bans they’ve gotten away with for far too many years and give streamers actual chances to rectify mistakes as well as removing the total lack of transparency shield Twitch has hid behind for far too long,” she says.
Twitch has since responded to Pink News: “We will always aim to avoid being overly punitive based on assumptions–when we have taken enforcement action on this content, we’ve only done so in the case of a clear violation of our guidelines.”