Harassment, antisemitism prevalent among Twitch streamers

“I've had instances of antisemitic trolls and hate-raids spewing Hezbollah and Nazi propaganda in my chat room."

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)
Popular video game streaming platform Twitch has been hit with outrage by gamers worldwide over the widespread harassment seen on the platform.
This first came out with many women speaking out about sexual harassment featured in the gaming industry, as well as harassment faced by streamers during their live-streams. Indeed, many of the allegations were against some of the top streamers on Twitch, such as Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell and Henry “HenryG” Greer. This has led to a widespread boycott against the Amazon-owned platform in order to cut off its ad revenue.
However, the harassment on Twitch is not only directed by streamers against others, but often by viewers. This is often seen in “hate-raids” that target specific streamers.
A hate-raid “is basically when someone sends their followers and fan base to attack someone with inappropriate comments, death threats, constant harassment, etc.,” Israeli Twitch streamer Dov Joseph “FiendRiver” Goldman-Aloof told The Jerusalem Post. “These kinds of things hinder us from performing our jobs correctly when it’s this severe.”
Goldman-Aloof, who has been a Twitch streamer since 2017, is no stranger to facing harassment on the platform, with much of it being antisemitic in nature.
“I’ve had instances of antisemitic trolls and hate-raids spewing Hezbollah and Nazi propaganda in my chat room. Luckily, my moderators are usually there to help out with banning and muting words,” he said.
Goldman-Aloof added that he also faced harassment over being on the autism spectrum.
“There was someone who brought in a hate-raid from 4chan because they dislike people with autism,” he recounted. “I make it no secret that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I talk about it regularly and consider myself a mental health advocate.”
With the platform traditionally not offering much help in these instances, many streamers have been forced to try and fight off harassment themselves.
“I personally tend to mock trolls – a tactic I refer to as ‘counter-trolling’ – for their pathetic life choices and make funny content out of it,” Goldman-Aloof told the Post.
“I understand that someone may be hurting when they resort to things like this, but that doesn’t give one the right to be a disgusting jerk to others. There are better ways of initiating conversation with people online or in general.
“The issue is that they can follow and set off the follow alerts if you don’t disable them, which can deter potential new viewers. There are ways to deal with such scenarios, but doing so severely hinders our performance.”
It isn’t just streamers that face harassment on the platform, either. Zece, a video game fan from Miami and frequent user of Twitch who wished to keep her last name anonymous, told the Post about her experiences dealing with harassment on the platform.
“There are lots of trolls saying stuff like ‘kill the Jews,’” she said. “I usually try to ignore it or flag it.”
This is something she says is prevalent in online gaming and streaming, and can make the community feel very unwelcoming.
“When I mention my heritage, often there’s an awkward silence like I said I was a sex offender or something,” Zece explained.
Twitch has had a history of being used as a platform for hate, most notably when it was used to live-stream the attempted Halle synagogue shooting on Yom Kippur in 2019.
Following the shooting, the platform organized an advisory council to help make the site safer. However, regarding harassment, the platform was notoriously lax about taking action.
“With today’s technology, Twitch, as well as several other sites, should have certain things in place. IP bans, verified emails required to interact with the site, better support systems and much more to make the user experience as smooth as possible,” Goldman-Aloof explained.
In addition, while antisemitism and harassment over a social media platform or video platform like YouTube are nothing new, the way the toxicity spreads over Twitch is rather unique.
“Twitch is unique in the sense that it thrives off live interaction between a chat room and a broadcaster rather than posted comments or an already posted video,” Goldman-Aloof said. “When things go wrong during a live-stream, it can’t just be edited out and retried later like in YouTube videos.”
Due to the huge uproar over social media, however, it seems Twitch is finally moving to take action against harassment, with many streamers being banned after proof of these accusations surfaced.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but Twitch still has a long way to go until they are ultimately the ideal streaming platform,” Goldman-Aloof explained.
This is crucial, as with the recent collapse of the streaming platform Mixer, there isn’t any other place for the streamers to go.
“After what happened to Mixer, many other people are afraid to step away from Twitch to a smaller platform in fear of building something there only to have that platform shut down,” Goldman-Aloof said.
The only other real options available right now are Facebook Gaming and YouTube, with the former being shunned over Facebook’s many privacy issues. YouTube is used, too, but the platform is very different and not the best for streamers.
“Most successful streamers will also make off-line YouTube content as well anyway,” Goldman-Aloof explained. “But Google still needs to figure out how to improve the Live Streaming function on YouTube.”