Twitch introduces a Safety Advisory Council, community skeptical

Olivia R. May 14, 2020

Streaming giant Twitch has announced its newly formed Twitch Safety Advisory Council. 

The streaming platform stated that keeping its community "safe and healthy" is its top priority, which led to the creation of this council. According to a press release, the Twitch Safety Advisory Council will "inform and guide" Twitch's decisions based on the members' "experience and expertise," as well as aligning with Twitch's mission of "empowering communities to create together." 

What will the Twitch Safety Advisory Council do? 

There are certain focuses the council will have going forward, all focused on making the experience more positive and welcoming for users. This includes drafting new policies and updating existing policies, developing products and features that improve moderation, promoting healthy streaming and work-life balance habits, protecting marginalized groups' interests, and identifying emerging trends. 

Who will be on the Twitch Safety Advisory Council?

What most of the community in and around Twitch is probably wondering is who is going to be making these calls and guiding Twitch on their decisions. According to Twitch, the group is "composed of online safety experts," as well as Twitch creators who have a deep understanding of the platform's content and community. 

Their vision was to combine Twitch streamers who understand creators' "unique challenges and viewpoints" along with outside perspectives that can make unbiased observations. Each council member was carefully selected based on their "relevant personal and professional experiences" related to the Twitch community. 

"We are excited to work with this talented group to make Twitch the best place to grow and foster a community. The creation of the Safety Advisory Council is just one way we are enhancing our approach to issues of trust and safety. We will continue to invest in tools, products, and policies that promote the safety and well-being of everyone on Twitch," Twitch stated in the press release. 

Will the Twitch Safety Advisory Council actually work? 

It's not clear what brought on Twitch's decision to form this council, but content creators and viewers have been complaining about Twitch's seemingly unfair and inconsistent punishments throughout the last few years. 

Big-name Fortnite streamer Turner "Tfue" Tenney appeared to escape Twitch's three-strike rule when he wasn't permanently banned upon his third strike. When he got away with yelling racial slurs on stream, many in the streaming community also recalled Tyler "Ninja" Blevins avoiding any punishment for using similar language during a freestyle rap. 

It started to seem apparent that Twitch was favoring their more popular streamers, especially when smaller streamer MitchJones was not only banned for showing a DM with racist language on-stream, but lost his Twitch partnership

The artist community on Twitch also saw a lot of Twitch suspensions for suggestive anime-style artwork. While some streamers felt it was the right call from Twitch, many also pointed out how IRL streamers are allowed to be completely naked in body paint or doing suggestive poses for the camera. Some female streamers have even shown their genitals and were only banned for 24 hours. Some weren't suspended at all. 

Another commonly discussed situation is when popular IRL streamer Alinity Divine wasn't punished by Twitch at all for throwing her cat on stream, feeding it alcohol, and then showcasing a suggestive moment with her dog

Meanwhile, streamers like DansGaming were not only suspended from Twitch, but actually lost the ability to upload fast emotes for three months, essentially losing some of his income. The reason was an emote in the shape of a cartoon man sitting naked on the toilet. It was removed for "sexual content," an explanation that angered both the streamer and his fans.

The streaming community remains skeptical of Twitch's Safety Advisory Council, although there's hope that these are the kinds of inconsistent and questionable decisions that will now be better addressed. Many members of the community have long felt that Twitch hasn't addressed a lot of their concerns in the past, leaving a lot of pressure on the council to improve the situation amidst question over how much power it will actually have.