Twitch announces safety advisory board following Halle synagogue shooting stream

Though the video did not remain on Twitch for long, it was captured and shared on other platforms.

Attendees walk past a Twitch logo in Los Angeles (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)
Attendees walk past a Twitch logo in Los Angeles
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)
Amazon's video game live-streaming platform Twitch is forming an advisory council of experienced users, online safety experts and anti-bullying advocates to help improve safety on the site, the company said in a blog post on Thursday.
The council's eight members will advise on product and policy changes, focusing on areas such as harassment and protection of marginalized groups.
Twitch, which was used last October to stream footage from the shooting attack on the synagogue in Halle, Germany, said it had doubled the size of its safety operations team this year and added new tools to help its volunteer channel moderators.
As Jews around the world were marking the holiest day of the year last October, news broke of an attack near a synagogue in the German city of Halle. With some 50 worshipers gathered for the Yom Kippur service, the gunman tried to enter the synagogue and, when that failed, shot a woman outside and a man at a nearby kebab shop, killing both.
Users of Twitch could watch as the gunman railed against Jews, feminism and immigrants before he shot the two victims to death. It was an eerie reminder of the killing of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, which was streamed live on Facebook.
Though the video did not remain on Twitch for long, it was captured and shared on other platforms.
The company said it also uses a combination of human moderators and automation to handle the moderation reports it receives.
Twitch, which says it has 15 million daily users, is primarily a site where video gamers can livestream their games and chat with other users, though it also has channels focused on sports, music and politics. Last year, US President Donald Trump joined the platform.
The council includes Dr. Sameer Hinduja, the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, sociologist T.L Taylor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose research focuses on online gaming, Alex Holmes, the deputy CEO at UK-based youth charity The Diana Award, and Emma Llansó, the director of the Center for Democracy and Technology's Free Expression Project.
Also on the council are experienced Twitch streamers CohhCarnage, Cupahnoodle, Zizaran and FerociouslySteph.
"When developing this council, we felt it was essential to include both experts who can provide an external perspective, as well as Twitch streamers who deeply understand creators' unique challenges and viewpoints," Twitch said in the blog post.
The move adds Twitch to the list of social platforms that have created councils to advise on site decisions, such as Twitter, which formed its Trust and Safety Council in 2016.
In March, Chinese social video app TikTok, which faces US scrutiny over data-sharing and censorship concerns, named members of a US-focused content moderation committee to give "unvarnished views" on its policies.
Last week, social media giant Facebook announced the first members of its oversight board, a high-profile effort to respond to criticism over content moderation decisions.
But unlike the Facebook's oversight board, which can overrule the company's verdicts on certain content, a Twitch spokeswoman told Reuters that its council would not make moderation decisions.
The spokeswoman said the council would meet regularly. Asked about transparency on the group's advice, she said that Twitch hopes to share periodic updates into its work.
JTA contributed to this report.