Former US President Donald Trump has been indefinitely banned from Twitch, along with the platform introducing new terms for tackling “hateful conduct.”
Trump had previously been banned on Twitch for hateful conduct on June 29th, 2020. This was presumably due to a a rebroadcast of his Presidential announcement speech. Twitch also reportedly flagged comments President Trump made during his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20th.
In a statement to IGN, a spokesperson stated “In light of yesterday’s shocking attack on the Capitol, we have disabled President Trump’s Twitch channel. Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the President’s incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence.”
On January 6th protesters assembled outside the Capitol Building, protesting the 2020 US election results. Trump and others had repeatedly alleged the election was rigged due to several irregularities. Some individuals managed to breach the perimeter of the building- a move that has been called an attempted insurrection by many.
Some of those who entered the building livestreamed themselves doing so. These broadcasted were on websites such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook; along with clips being re-uploaded and shared on Twitter.
While many have squarely blamed Trump supports, others claim left-wing activists encouraged or were those who invaded the building. At least one arrested man, John Sullivan, has been accused of being a supporter of Black Lives Matter; but his true allegiances have been debated [1, 2, 3].
After the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Twitch announced that Trump’s suspension would be indefinite, “due to the ongoing risk of further incitement of violence.” Twitch also announced they would be updated their policies to prevent encouragement of violence “regardless of whether or not it was directly streamed on Twitch.”
You can find the full statement below.
“We have indefinitely suspended President Trump’s Twitch channel due to the ongoing risk of further incitement of violence. The President’s statements continue to be interpreted as calls to action, and we are taking this action to remove the potential for harm to our community and the general public.
Twitch has clear rules that prohibit hateful conduct, harassment, or incitement of violence on our service, and we consider off-service events when making enforcement decisions. However, the events of the past weeks have highlighted a gap with respect to rhetoric that encourages violence, regardless of whether or not it was directly streamed on Twitch. We will be updating our policies as a result of our consideration of this situation.”
Twitch’s updated Hateful Conduct & Harassment policies will go into effect January 22nd. These new policies seem to introduce the consideration of context, allows discussion of content that is hateful or harassing for satire or education; but not if it is promoting “hateful viewpoints under the guise of education or comedy.”
Behavior outside of Twitch may also result in users being suspended.
“We support users who express diverse or unpopular points of view, as long as this behavior is not hateful or harassing. When reviewing reported content or activity, we will consider the surrounding context in evaluating whether or not the behavior is a violation of our Community Guidelines.
We do not tolerate hateful or harassing behavior, or conduct that encourages or incites hate or harassment in any way. However, we allow users to discuss content that is hateful or harassing for the purposes of satire or education, as long as this context is clear. Satirical content is acceptable if it uses elements such as irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and critique abusive behaviors. Attempting to promote hateful viewpoints under the guise of education or comedy will lead to suspension of your account.
Across Hateful Conduct and Harassment, the severity of enforcement increases when the behavior is targeted, personal, graphic, or repeated/prolonged, incites further abuse, or involves threats of violence or coercion. The most egregious violations may result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense. The policies listed below apply site-wide, however users may personally implement and enforce more stringent guidelines for their own channels and communities.”
[…] “The Twitch community is also at conventions, TwitchCon, Twitch Community Meetups, and even social media. Our community encompasses all of these spaces and we take them into consideration when it comes to our role in keeping the community safe. We may take action against persons for hateful conduct or harassment that occurs off Twitch services and is directed at Twitch users.”
The listed examples are noted as non-comprehensive, along with content creators being “responsible for moderating hateful conduct and harassment in their communities.”
This includes being a “role-model,” not restreaming content streams that violate the terms of service, and ban users in their stream’s chat who are abusive or hateful. “Not using the provided tools to moderate hateful conduct appearing on your channel will lead to a suspension.”
On May 28th, 2020 President Trump signed an executive order on “Preventing Online Censorship,” after Twitter marked one of his tweets as “deceptive.” Trump had expressed concern that mail-in ballots “will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.”
In summation, the executive order ascertains that social media is the modern “public square.” As such they would lose their protections from being liable for what users post, if they use “their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”
Trump was banned from Twitter on January 8th “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Twitter have recently gotten into serious trouble over a New York Times report, stating they will not remove child pornography as it did not violate their terms of service, as stated in a lawsuit by the victim and her mother.