Twitch streamers call for blackout supporting sexual assault victims

Olivia R. June 24, 2020

There have been over 200 reports of sexual assault, harassment, and rape levied against streamers, content creators, and pro gamers over the past few weeks. Many of the accused streamers frequently use Twitch, leading to some other streamers to call for a blackout in support of those who have been victimized. 

The Twitch Blackout, which started trending on Twitter, is an attempt to get Twitch and their CEO to take notice of the ongoing sexism, racism, and sexual harassment on the platform. 

Many larger content creators have supported the Twitch Blackout movement. Games Done Quick even canceled their show for today to show solidarity with victims. 

"Believe and protect victims of harassment and abuse," they tweeted, using the #TWITCHBLACKOUT hashtag as a way to demand change from Twitch. 

Twitch finally responded to the ongoing outpouring of accusations from women in the gaming community. In a short Twitter statement, the streaming platform claimed that they would be getting law enforcement involved for some of the allegations as they continued to look into the partners and content creators that were called out. 

"We're thankful for the bravery shown by those who have come forward to speak about their experiences, and we are committed to working to make the streaming community safer for everyone," Twitch said. 

Unfortunately, many found Twitch's statement to be a case of too little, too late. Some called out the streaming platform immediately, saying that they wouldn't believe in the stated desire for change until they saw action. 

Some women even noted that the accused streamers were already back on Twitch, with some of them using their latest live broadcasts to deny the allegations. 

Twitch was also called out for not taking action in the past when it comes to claims of sexual harassment and assault. Twitch partner Starling accused Twitch of having a culture that "sweeps the ugly stuff under the rug for profit." 

She tweeted that Twitch's CEO, Emmett Shear, was asked to make a comment about some partners using their platform to "abuse women" during a company meeting. He allegedly laughed and saying he "couldn't really comment" on what goes on on Twitch. Starling said that Shear clearly knew there was a "partner abuse problem" at Twitch but never addressed it. 

This story was corroborated by a former VP at Twitch, Justin Wong, who claimed he had told Shear about a sexual harassment claim only to have it ignored. The accused sexual harasser was given a VIP space at a Twitch event soon after Wong brought the situation to Shear's attention. 

As the streaming community continued to pressure Twitch, Shear decided to release an email he had sent out company-wide that admitted he knew Twitch hadn't been as safe as it could have been for women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ users. In the email, Shear stated that Twitch should "set higher standards" and make a "lasting and positive change" in the gaming industry. 

For many followers, this statement only led to more outrage. It was just another set of words instead of action from Twitch. Some have even asked that the CEO step down from his position. 

Some within the streaming community have created a petition that demanded Shear take action. The petition, which has over 3,000 signatures, insists that Twitch be held accountable and "finally take action against those who use their power to take advantage of others, and against those who enable it by knowing it goes on but stay silent or brush it off." 

The petition called Shear out for having a "boys will be boys" mentality over the situation, referencing his shrugging off sexual harassment claims. 

"Partnered streamers who have been outed for their predatory are apparently being investigated, but they have not been suspended despite the countless cases racking up against them. People have been banned for less than this immediately," reads the petition. 

While not everyone on Twitch has taken part in the blackout, it seems that this could be the beginning of an ongoing of an increase in accountability in and around the streaming giant's platform.