While Twitch may not be as much of a household name as some other large social platforms, the Amazon-owned service has gained immense popularity in recent years beyond gaming. Twitch has become a destination to watch others play video games, raise goats and other animals, and even just sleep.
But its core feature — livestreaming — poses a huge set of challenges. Live video and live audio have proven difficult for a number of social platforms to effectively moderate, given their real-time and ephemeral nature.
To address this issue, Twitch relies on a mix of machine detection systems, human moderators and user reporting to identify content that violates its guidelines, not unlike other social platforms. But as the Buffalo mass shooting shows, even taking action a couple minutes after a broadcast begins may not be enough to stop the video’s spread online.
Here is what you should know about Twitch, as it again finds itself under scrutiny following the deadly attack in Buffalo.
What is Twitch?
Launched in 2011 and acquired by Amazon in 2014 for nearly $1 billion, Twitch initially gained immense popularity among the online video game community. The platform says it has an average viewership at any given moment of more than 2.5 million users and has more than 31 million average daily visitors.
The platform has pivoted beyond just gaming content, attracting a wider range of viewers and digital creators who livestream on topics ranging from pop culture to music. Users do not need an account to tune into a live broadcast.
Who uses it?
The same report said Twitch’s most-watched category since late 2020 has been the wide-ranging “Just Chatting” category. The Just Chatting page features everything from clips on the Johnny Depp defamation trial to cooking tutorials.
What issues has Twitch faced before?
How does Twitch’s response compare to other platforms?
In a statement sent to CNN confirming the shooting was streamed on its platform, Twitch said the user “has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.” The company did not immediately respond to follow-up questions.
Spokespeople for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit all told CNN that they had banned the sharing of the video on their sites and are working to identify and remove copies of it.