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Recap: Over the past few months, Twitch streamers have weathered an onslaught of what’s been termed “hate raids;” the sudden appearance of endless obscenities in chat, interspersed with personal attacks that may include streamers’ private details.
At the end of August, streamers coalesced under the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag to demand a response from Twitch. #ADayOffTwitch was organized for September 1 to hit Twitch’s bottom line. About 10,000 fewer streamers went online that day, reducing Twitch’s usual peak of 4.5 million concurrent viewers to 3.5 million.
Twitch responded to the community through discussions with news outlets but didn’t formally announce new harassment countermeasures. Then, last week, they filed a legal complaint against two people they allege organize hate raids and disseminate the software needed to conduct them.
But in the complaint, Twitch admits they don’t know the defendants’ real names despite having investigated them, though they appear to be under the impression that a court subpoena could expose their identities. In the complaint, they’re referred to by their Twitch usernames, CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose.
From the complaint: "CruzzControl has admitted to using bots to flood Twitch channels with harassing content. They have also demonstrated how the bots work so others can use similar methods to accomplish hate raids.
"Twitch has also linked CreatineOverdose directly to hate raids. For example, on August 15, 2021, [they] used their bot software to demonstrate how it could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the KKK."
The complaint summons the defendants to trial in California, where Twitch is headquartered. But CruzzControl lives in the Netherlands, Twitch believes, and CreatineOverdose lives in Austria.
Twitch’s endgame is a little mysterious. If they do successfully prosecute and fine CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose, it could serve as a warning to other hate raid organizers -- which would be a repeat of a strategy they successfully employed against developers of fake viewership software in 2016.
Or perhaps, Twitch wants to leverage legal repercussions against CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose to force them to expose other members of what CreatineOverdose has described as the "hate raiding community," which mostly resides in clandestine Discord servers, a Washington Post investigation discovered recently.
Either way, an outcome isn’t likely to happen quickly, which is why Twitch has reiterated that legal battles are just one front in the war they’re waging against harassment.
"The Complaint is by no means the only actions we’ve taken to address targeted attacks, nor will it be the last," Twitch told the Washington Post. "Hate and harassment have no place on Twitch, and we know we have a lot more work to do -- but we hope that these combined actions will help reduce the immediate and unacceptable harm that targeted attacks have been inflicting on our community."