As women continue to come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Twitch streamers and content creators, the platform’s CEO has decided to make a further statement on the matter.
Beginning around June 19, many women, including some Twitch partners and streamers, have shared their stories of abuse, rape, and harassment at the hands of well known men in the streaming community. This includes SayNoToRage, Luminosity48, Waglington, and Online Performance Group’s CEO Omeed Dariani. Some have admitted to their actions in apology videos while others have denied it, including Joe “AngryJoe” Vargas.
I want everyone to know that there’s been some false accusations made against me & that I’m taking this very seriously, my lawyers are now involved & I will have a full and complete public response shortly, but I have to let them do their job first.
— Joe Vargas (@AngryJoeShow) June 22, 2020
After the wave of accusations, a Twitch partner claimed that the streaming platform’s CEO, Emmett Shear, already knew about the ongoing sexual harassment problem and had dismissed it in a large company meeting. She stated that there is video evidence of Shear being told about ongoing sexual harassment claims against content creators only for him to respond dismissively and laugh.
“This is Twitch culture. Sweep the ugly stuff under the rug for profit,” Starling stated.
Twitch decided to put out an official statement on the allegations on their Twitter account. The offical statement ensured that they take “sexual harassment and misconduct very seriously” and would even be involving the police if needed. For now, they are looking at the Twitch users who were accused of rape, sexual harassment, abuse, and pedophilia.
But even after this statement was put out, the accused content creators were continuing to stream on Twitch. Some even used the platform to deny the claims made against them. This angered many women in the gaming community who felt that Twitch wasn’t taking the situation very seriously.
Some women even responded to Twitch on Twitter, telling them that these were “empty words” since they didn’t do much to handle sexual assault accusations in the past, even when brought up directly to them. Former Twitch VP Justin Wong spoke up for one of the women, stating that Twitch had done nothing in the past to deal with higher up individuals accused of predatory behavior and assault.
I was a VP at Twitch and I reported this to the relationship-owning VP, the head of HR, and the CEO. All assured me it would be handled. Next year he was in the same VIP space at the same Twitch event. I was told he was the VP’s uncle and an “important” initiative launch partner. https://t.co/LvkPxW43zR
— Justin Wong (@JustinWong) June 22, 2020
With so much attention on their platform, Shear decided to share an internal email sent throughout the company that shows their committment to making the platform safer.
“There’s been a lot of important conversation happening over the previous couple days, and I’ve heard your voices,” Shear tweeted along with the screenshots of the email.
There’s been a lot of important conversation happening over the previous couple days, and I’ve heard your voices. I’d like to share the email I just sent internally to the company on the topic. pic.twitter.com/B1V34lT9EI
— Emmett Shear (@eshear) June 23, 2020
In the email, Shear states that they will be taking action against the Twitch-affiliated individuals accused of sexual misconduct and assault, including banning and removing partnerships.
“The status quo needs to change,” Shear wrote. “This reckoning and industry-wide actions are overdue, and this is another issue that we, and the industry, need to address to create lasting and positive change.”
Shear then admitted that Twitch hasn’t lived up to the standards that many women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals have for the streaming platform and its large community. He stated that Twitch may not be able to “singlehandedly solve systematic” racism and sexism, but that they can set higher standards for themselves and those with power and influence within the industry.
There was immediate backlash to Shear’s tweet. Many felt that emailing people about change is not the same as making a change and urged Twitch to take some real action. Some Twitter users even demanded that Shear step down from his position as CEO.
actions speak louder than words. The community has been calling for this for years, and those calls have been ignored. It’s time for actual action.
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) June 23, 2020
So far, Twitch hasn’t made public any actions takem against those accused. It’s possible that the platform’s new Safety Advisory Council could play a role, but this is likely an issue that will have to be dealt with from the very top of the streaming giant. If not, more stories like those shared this week may continue to play out.