More than 270,000 Children Targeted By Predators On Twitch, Research Says
This Bloomberg research casts a lens on an important moral issue prevalent on Twitch.
Twitch, founded in 2011, started as a platform where gamers could live stream their gameplay. Live streaming wasn’t as famous in the mainstream but with Twitch it became extremely popular, with thousands streaming their gameplay on the platform. It was bought by Amazon in 2014.
Twitch also attracted none gamers. Musicians use it to stream their music, a variety of streamers use it to chat with their fans, and some use it to live stream themselves making food, drawing, and dancing. IRL, or In Real Life, steamers stream themselves outdoors doing trivial stuff, like shopping, or having a stroll around the park.
- Research published in Bloomberg has highlighted Twitch’s predator problem and lack of appropriate action from Twitch.
- Researchers monitored Twitch for more than two years. Their findings were damning.
- Predators systematically target minors, specifically looking for children.
- Twitch’s existing mechanisms fail to detect and ban predators.
There are no restrictions on who can or can’t stream there, just as there are no restrictions on viewers. And that unrestricted access to the platform has given birth to a pressing issue.
Twitch has become a haven for predators where they systemically target underage streamers. In a report published by Bloomberg, the researchers found that alleged predators targeted 279,016 in the span of little more than two years.
The article also mentions that in July, this year, predators targeted an average of 673 children per day. That’s an extremely disturbing figure. Furthermore, they also found that one predatory account, alone, followed twitch accounts of 98 child streamers.
According to the research, in August of this year, an 11-year-old girl’s stream had almost 700 viewers. She was asked by the viewers “to do a ‘fashion show’ and show her legs.” A saved video of her stream had almost 4,000 viewers.
Predators also attempt to lure children into private chats on platforms such as Discord and Snapchat, with the research finding “over 5,700 references to other social media platforms, such as Discord, Snapchat and TikTok.”
Furthermore, predators use Twitch’s search feature to find potential victims. Even though twitch’s front page shows trending and popular streams, predators just need to do a little bit of digging to find children’s streams.
The problem only grew with the growing popularity of Twitch, especially during the pandemic. As millions of people were restricted to their homes.
Twitch, when contacted by Bloomberg, responded that they are aware of the problem and have worked extensively with child protection organizations. They claim that they have quadrupled their child protection response.
They are also introducing updates that allow them “to detect and remove child streamers and predators.” But, as mentioned in the research, these measures have proven inadequate and toothless at protecting children and ridding twitch of predators.
It’s hard to control and regulate the internet. It’s infested with thousands of dangerous criminals and predators. But the platforms like Twitch, which earn millions of dollars in revenue, are obligated to do more.
They ought to make sure that children do not have unsupervised and unrestricted free access to their platform. And as predators learn new methods, Twitch must also evolve its ways.
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