There may be a multitude of reasons a Twitch viewer might want to use a VPN while navigating the site, but Twitch is looking to put a stop to that via shadow banning.
In December and January, reports started coming in via social media about users’ chats not showing up in streams when they were using a VPN. There are a few common reasons that folks use VPNs on Twitch. Some of them are problematic, such as trolls trying to circumvent account bans. Some users are trying to get around their increasingly aggressive ads. There are also some legitimate uses for VPNs, such as being able to watch Twitch in countries where it’s banned, or as an added layer of security, or being able to use certain Twitch features that don’t work in all regions. Some folks just use VPNs for their own reasons and find it annoying to turn it off when they want to watch something on Twitch.
These viewers, no matter their intent, are now being shadow banned by Twitch and are not able to chat during a stream. To the VPN user, their chat still shows up on the stream, but to the streamer and everyone else in the chat, nothing shows up. Recently, Twitter user notdan mentioned that almost all VPN providers were shadow banned from Twitch chat. Many reports on Reddit started showing up too, with very few people in the thread reporting no problems. Of those who were fine, they seemed to be using a VPN that wasn’t caught in Twitch’s blanket VPN shadow ban.
Oh fun, @Twitch has banned almost ALL VPN providers from chat via shadowban during the past week or two. Almost ALL of @mullvadnet‘s nodes are basically banned right now. @TwitchSupport: This is unacceptable. You should at least be telling people their chats wont show up.
— uɐpʇou@ ✸ (@notdan) January 31, 2021
Those who are using VPN providers NordVPN and MullVadnetVPN have reported their shadow ban. They are automatically shadow banned on Twitch just for using the VPN. There is no official response from Twitch yet about the shadow ban, so all people have to go off of is mass amounts of reports that VPN users are being shadow banned. Streamers are also worried that they may lose sponsorships from VPN providers due to the news.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons that someone would want to use a VPN while browsing and chatting on Twitch, so it’s no surprise that people are mad about the idea of Twitch issues shadow bans. These Twitch users have no concrete evidence that their VPN is the reason that they are shadow banned, but it does seem likely given the amount of reports citing the same problem. Because Twitch hasn’t publically stated its stance on VPN issues like this, and because it haven’t been transparent about shadow banning VPN users, the community is understandably angry.
Twitch seems to be punishing the small part of its community who use VPNs for reasons that run counter to Twitch’s objectives. Because there are legitimate uses for VPN services, fans are demanding that Twitch at the very least tells VPN users that their chat messages aren’t showing up. Theories about Twitch using the shadow bans to punish those that are using VPNs to circumvent ads is already circulating. While there has been no official statement from Twitch so far, it is only a matter of time before the community at large learns more about the issue, which might finally prompt Twitch to make a statement.