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Twitch postpones new rules to clarify vague expectations

Viewer behavior and dress codes may need some explanation.

Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters

Twitch is temporarily putting the brakes on its new rules for hate speech, harassment and sexual material. The livestreaming service has postponed the enforcement of new rules from February 19th to March 5th in order to "better explain some sections" in the wake of feedback. The company hasn't explained just what those sections are (we've asked Twitch to elaborate), but there's a good chance it's addressing both streamers' oversight of their viewers as well as acceptable clothing.

As Polygon explained, streamers like Forsen are worried that Twitch's call for a "good faith effort" to stop viewer-instigated harassment could put them on the hook for whatever fans do, no matter how little the streamer is involved. That's not likely what Twitch intended (this is mainly to prevent streamers from encouraging or willfully ignoring harassment), but the language doesn't explicitly state that.

Likewise, some streamers have complained that Twitch is vague in its definition of appropriate attire. You're supposed to wear clothes that would be suitable for a "public street, mall, or restaurant," but users have been banned in the past for wearing shorts and a tank top. Are you going to get the boot just because your ordinary clothes show a little too much skin?

Twitch is in a tough spot -- it has to establish easy-to-follow guidelines while keeping the rules open enough that it can tackle vile behavior that it hadn't anticipated. However, the delay suggests that it still hasn't found that balance. While the initial explanation wasn't about to trigger a mass exodus from Twitch, it didn't exactly inspire confidence.