On Wednesday, September 1, a number of channels on Twitch will go out as streamers participate in #ADayOffTwitch, a strike designed to draw attention to the ongoing hatred and bullying that has plagued the platform in recent weeks.
Created by Twitch streamers ShineyPen, Lucia Everblack, and RekitRaven, the strike aims to raise awareness of the issues creators are facing on Twitch. The edge spoke to these organizers, streamers and others to talk about #ADayOffTwitch, how they are dealing with the meteoric rise of hate attacks, and what they hope the platform will do to protect its users in the future.
A Day Off Twitch was born from the #TwitchDoBetter movement, a hashtag created by streamers affected by the hate attacks that have exploded on Twitch in recent weeks. While the act of bombarding a streamer’s chat with racist, sexist, transphobic and generally abusive messages isn’t new, the phenomenon has grown dramatically, thanks to users using bots to flood chats with hundreds of automatically generated messages. In response to what they believed to be Twitch’s slow response to the abuse, streamer RekitRaven created the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag to urge Amazon’s streaming platform to use better tools to stem the tide of harassment.
Twitch promised that fixes are coming, but in the meantime, streamers must battle the hate attacks with community-developed tools and resources. ShineyPen, a black trans-streamer, felt that more should be done than talking about the problem, so he decided to go on strike. “A day off [Twitch] is largely about coming together in solidarity. One day off is one step in the many steps we have to take to change,” says Shiney The edge.
RekitRaven echoed Shiney’s statements that this strike is more about solidarity among marginalized streamers than a means of influencing Twitch’s profits. “I think it’s important to work together for the well-being of everyone affected and to show that we’re not flinching,” she says.
Reactions to A Day Off Twitch have been mixed, even among supporters. Due to Twitch’s endemic hold on the streaming community, it’s just not feasible for some smaller streamers, arguably the population most affected by hate attacks, to take a day off. For some creators, Twitch is their only source of income. Users trying to create or maintain affiliate or partner status — designations that give creators access to many different methods of monetization — can jeopardize their finances or the health of their channel by taking even a single day off. There are also contractual obligations such as advertising deals or partnerships that prevent streamers from skipping a day.
A note about #ADayOffTwitch from the cast & crew of our streamed show.
Read and remember that not everyone is free to take tomorrow, regardless of the level of support they have for the event. pic.twitter.com/Pu6lE8CucQ
— Mother LandsRPG: Season 3! (@MotherlandsRPG) August 31, 2021
Other streamers to A Day Off Twitch for more philosophical reasons. For them, the people behind these hate attacks work to bully marginalized streamers from the platform, and taking a day off gives them exactly what they want. Continuing to stream and speak out against the abuse is therefore the best way to counter trolls who might not otherwise face repercussions for their actions.
As September 1 approaches and A Day Off Twitch gains momentum, there is a noticeable lull from some of Twitch’s biggest stars. And some of the bigger streamers talking about it don’t have nice things to say. Asmongold, a long time World of Warcraft who is who? made headlines when he switched to Final Fantasy XIV, said in a stream“Nobody gives a fuck if you take a day off. Nobody knows who you are.” He goes on to say that he would join a Twitch strike if every other major streamer got involved and that he “believes in the power of numbers”. Asmongold has 2.4 million followers on Twitch and has not commented on The edge‘s request for comment.
There is a wider sense of abandonment and hypocrisy about the silence of larger streamers about hate attacks. During the pride month of racial equality protests, streamers large and small expressed their support for the affected communities. Yet some of those same voices are not being heard now. “I accept that not everyone will be on board supporting #ADayOffTwitchsays ShinyPen. “I believe that many, not all, of these greater creators speak from a privileged perspective.”
“Being a falcon has the potential to hurt them financially”, Parris Lilly, Twitch streamer and host for Xbox’s 2021 Gamescom presentation, adds. “Nobody cares how POCs are treated as long as it doesn’t affect them.”
RekitRaven was less concerned about the apparent unwillingness of larger streamers to join or even acknowledge the Twitch strike. “All I can say is that I’m not worried about that. We are already making an impression. The world is watching.”
Twitch is also watching. A Twitch spokesperson said: The edge“We support our streamers’ rights to express themselves and draw attention to important issues in our service. Nobody should have to deal with malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for, and we’re working hard on improved channel-level ban evasion detection and additional account improvements to help make Twitch a safer place for creators.”
Twitch’s support for A Day Off Twitch goes even beyond the statements. The platform kicks off Sub-event on September 2, a day after the protests, presumably so that streamers who are allowed to participate can still take advantage.
While Twitch works to develop those security improvements and streamers still struggle with the dangerous hate attacks that lead to doxxing and swatting, the talk of moving to other platforms has resurfaced. Twitch is the biggest fish in the flowing pond, but not the only one. Even after Microsoft shut down its Mixer platform, Facebook and YouTube are offering alternatives to streamers fed up with Twitch’s slow and reactive response to harassment.
DrLupo, once one of the biggest streamers on Twitch, announced that he has signed an exclusive deal with YouTube Gaming, making the platform an attractive alternative to Twitch and, most importantly, one that can be financially viable. The edge asked YouTube Gaming what protections it had for streamers, but it didn’t respond in time for publication.
While it doesn’t have the reach of Twitch or YouTube, Facebook Gaming is also slowly expanding its streaming presence, especially among black creators – a frequent target of hate attacks. Facebook Gaming’s Black Creators Program guarantees monthly payment, early product access and offers mentoring programs to participating Black streamers.
Luis Olivalves, Facebook Gaming’s global director of partnerships for gamemakers, also shared the platform’s streamer protection policies:
Most creators come to Facebook Gaming to build positive and supportive communities around the games they love. To do this, it’s important that creators and their moderators have tools and resources at their disposal to create the safe and inclusive environments they want.
We also hear from our creators and gaming communities that using real names on our platform, reducing anonymity, contributes to a generally more positive environment on Facebook Gaming.
While we find raids are most positively and supportively used on our platform, it’s important that our creators have control over who can and cannot raid their channels. Creators on Facebook Gaming can disable raids altogether or select individual creator pages to “block” incoming raids.
Disabling raids and the ability to screen raids before they can do any damage is one of the biggest questions the Twitch community has asked.
And if getting rid of Twitch just isn’t a viable solution, there are now ways to keep using the platform while depriving Twitch of streamers’ profits. Streamlabs, a popular streaming tools service, recently announced that it add a tip function that allows viewers to set recurring donations. Currently, only streamers who meet certain criteria are allowed to collect subscription fees, of which Twitch takes care of 50 percent. This Streamlabs option makes it possible for anyone to receive recurring donations, 100 percent of which goes directly to the streamer after processing fees.
The organizers of A Day Off Twitch don’t necessarily want to abandon ship just yet. “I have no plans to find a new platform,” ShineyPen says. “However […] I really believe it’s good to have an alternative in our back pocket.”
The connection to Twitch is strong. It’s where these streamers have built friendships, communities, and business opportunities, and they don’t want to lose that place because of the wickedness of racist, transphobic trolls.
“There are so many marginalized individuals looking for a place to feel safe, to feel included and to have representation and that’s what we do,” says ShineyPen.
“We owe it to ourselves and our communities to at least try to improve conditions and make it a better place,” said Lucia Everblack.
According to Everblack, A Day Off Twitch is already successful before it even started. “The whole purpose was to spark a broader discussion.” But more than awareness, Everblack and the strike organizers and participants simply want their communities to feel safe and protected. “We don’t just want solutions to current problems,” says Everblack. “We want a policy that will never happen again or at least never get that serious.”