Streaming giant Twitch has banned over 7.5 million accounts that it says were contributing to “fake engagement” on the platform. The accounts were banned for violating the Twitch terms and service agreement.
The accounts were potentially involved in manipulating followers and viewership for accounts and didn’t belong to individual users. Most of these accounts were discovered with the help of machine learning technology that Twitch says will get better over time.
According to Twitch rules, fake engagement is “artificial inflation of channel statistics, such as views or follows, through coordination of 3rd party tools.”
“This behavior is characterized by the creation of incidental or duplicitous views or follows,” reads the Twitch help page on the matter.
View-botting is one of the most common forms of engagement inflation. View-botting is when someone uses “illegitimate scripts or tools to make a channel appear to have more concurrent viewers than it actually does.” Another common tactic is “Follow-Botting,” which is when someone uses bots to inflate their follower count artificially.
“Artificial engagement and botting limit growth opportunities for legitimate broadcasters and are damaging to the community as a whole. False viewer growth is not conducive to establishing a career in broadcasting because the ‘viewers’ do not contribute to a healthy, highly engaged community,” says Twitch.
The crackdown is welcome but also comes without any acknowledgment of how the company has failed to protect streamers who are view-botted and follow-botted without knowing. Female streamers are particularly hit with targeted bot attacks, putting their accounts at risk of being disabled because of these rules.
One such case happened with Brittany “MTGNerdGirl” Hamilton. Hamilton received over 70k new followers overnight, whom all spammed her chat with sexist messages, including telling her to “go back to the kitchen.” Hamilton says, “Every single one of those 73k bots spammed this in my channel, and I had to turn on subscriber mode, turn off alerts and ultimately end the stream.”
Twitch has yet to respond to these claims or claims from other streamers of similar incidents.