Steven R. August 13, 2019
In a rare display of humility, Twitch is admitting it made a mistake.
After multiple gaffes since the departure of popular streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear took to Twitter to issue an apology to the Fortnite star and explain why the company has been behaving strangely since he left.
“Our community comes to Twitch looking for live content. To help ensure they find great, live channels we’ve been experimenting with showing recommended content across Twitch, including on streamer’s pages that are offline,” Shear said. “This helps all streamers as it creates new community connections.”
In July, Ninja made the surprise announcement that he was leaving Twitch to begin exclusively streaming on Mixer, a rival social media platform. Seemingly in response to this, Twitch removed Ninja’s verification badge. This was followed by Twitch rolling out a new recommendation system, which saw Ninja’s page repurposed to direct visitors towards other Fortnite streamers.
The moves drew a variety of responses from users, with some viewing it as sheer pettiness, while others believed it was fair to repurpose an abandoned page.
Regardless, things went sideways when another Twitch user began airing pornographic content under the Fortnite category. The stream attracted over 20,000 visitors and landed right at the top of the recommended channels on Ninja’s page. This infuriated the streamer, who blasted Twitch for their negligence in a post on Twitter.
“I’ve been streaming for eight years to build my brand, to build that channel...Well now, there was a porn account that was number one being recommended on my channel,” Ninja said. “I have no say in any of this stuff...We’re trying to get the whole channel taken down.”
Ninja’s outburst and Shear’s response ignited a powder keg of frustration with Twitch.
The platform has long been criticized for its uneven handling of punishment and opaqueness when issues do arise. While Shear’s admission was a surprising departure from Twitch's typical silence, he was instead met with angry responses from other users that feel mistreated by the platform.
Shear did apologize to Ninja for what happened, but only time will tell if this marks a change in direction for the historically stubborn company or is merely damage control after a high-profile blunder.