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Twitch harassment policy update aims to focus less on intent, more on impact

The new policy is set to take effect on January 22, and when it does will prohibit a wider range of hate symbols, sex-based insults, and hateful language or behavior.

Twitch has announced and detailed an overhaul of its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy that notably clarifies its stance on what constitutes hateful behavior and shifts those definitions to focus more on the impact of certain actions rather than the intent of the poster.

The new policy is set to take effect on January 22, and when it does will prohibit a wider range of hate symbols, sex-based insults, and hateful language or behavior.

"Twitch aims to be a place where everyone can come together in shared, community experiences," reads the update. "This vision is threatened when people experience harmful rhetoric and abuse on Twitch."

The new guidelines break Twitch's Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy down into three categories, each of which is detailed at length on the policy page: Hateful Conduct, Sexual Harassment, and Harassment. In-depth details on each can be found here.

All of those categories are based around offenses that existed in Twitch's previous guidelines, but each has now been expanded to better protect its users. Sexual Harassment was previously covered under its general harassment policies but, following community feedback, Twitch has given it a standalone pillar in order to take a more aggressive approach against sexual harassment on the platform.

Particularly, Twitch shares the example of sex-based insults like objective statements against either Twitch users or public figures and says that those actions will be met with a suspension, even on first offense.

Twitch's definition of Hateful Conduct now includes a wider range of hate symbols, including the confederate flag, has rules prohibiting emote use that dehumanizes individuals or perpetuates stereotypes, and outright bans hate groups and hate group propaganda on the platform.

The Harassment policy has been updated to better consider how comments are perceived by targeted users rather than the intent of the person making the comments, though Twitch adds it'll "continue to weigh both the perspective of the reporter and the content under review to reach a determination."

"Twitch is a space for people to create, join, and participate in communities that share their interests. We want everyone to be able to express themselves on Twitch, but it’s important that this is done in a manner that allows everyone to flourish. Twitch prioritizes minimizing harm to our users over freedom of expression, and we will limit some expression with the goal of preventing, protecting users from, and moderating hateful behavior and harassment."

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