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Twitch forms review board to strengthen moderation policies

... and spit-shine its reputation.
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Twitch has launched an eight-member Safety Advisory Council designed to clarify the site’s moderation policies, and strengthen its sense of community and security. The new group is stacked with cyberbullying experts, web researchers and Twitch Partners, including variety streamer CohhCarnage, inclusivity activist FerociouslySteph, popular zombie-lover CupAhNoodle and esports pro Zizaran. 

The remaining members are Alex Holmes, CEO of youth-empowerment non-profit The Diana Award; Emma Llansó, Director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Free Expression Project; Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center; and TL Taylor, co-founder of esports-inclusivity effort AnyKey and author of 2018’s Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming.

“When developing this council we felt it was essential to include both experts who can provide an external perspective, as well as Twitch streamers who deeply understand creators’ unique challenges and viewpoints,” the company’s announcement post reads. “Each member of the council was carefully selected based on their familiarity with the Twitch community and their relevant personal and professional experiences.”

The council will offer guidance on the following areas, as outlined by Twitch:

  • Drafting new policies and policy updates

  • Developing products and features to improve safety and moderation

  • Promoting healthy streaming and work-life balance habits

  • Protecting the interests of marginalized groups

  • Identifying emerging trends that could impact the Twitch experience 

With 1.2 million followers on Twitch, CohhCarnage is the name that most folks will recognize in the list of advisors. Twitch shared news about the council on Twitter this morning, and CohhCarnage’s tag shows up multiple times in the replies, largely from people pleased that he’s on board.

CohhCarnage tweeted his own thoughts about the council, saying he joined up to foster three main things at Twitch: transparency, consistency and fairness.

“Twitch has a long way to go to get back in the good graces of the public concerning how it handles these processes,” he wrote. “I am hopeful this initiative is a big step in that direction.”

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Twitch has struggled to enforce its moderation and safety policies in a transparent, egalitarian way for years. After its launch in 2011, the streaming service grew more quickly than anticipated and in 2014, it was swept up by Amazon in a deal worth nearly $1 billion. Throughout these growth spurts, the company has stumbled its way through controversies over its ban decisions, gender-specific (and specifically female-nipple-focused) clothing restrictions, and safety policies.

Twitch’s reputation needs a spit-shine. The Safety Advisory Council is an attempt to do just that.

“The creation of the Safety Advisory Council is just one way we are enhancing our approach to issues of trust and safety,” the company wrote. “We will continue to invest in tools, products, and policies that promote the safety and well-being of everyone on Twitch.”

With the creation of an internal review board, Twitch is following a blueprint laid out by other technology companies in recent years. Notably, Facebook shared plans for a content oversight board in 2018 and just this month it shared the names of its first 20 members. The group will oversee moderation disputes on Facebook, Instagram and the company’s related umbrella of products, and it has the power to overrule CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s Oversight Board plans to start hearing cases this year.

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