Twitch, a Streaming Giant, Is Under Scrutiny After Shooting In Buffalo

He was saved from the massacre in Buffalo by going to buy a coffee 2:27

(WABNEWS Business) — Twitch, the live streaming giant popular with video gamers, is commanding national attention after the suspect in the Buffalo grocery store mass shooting attempted to stream the attack on the platform.

Twitch took down the livestream less than two minutes after the violence began on Saturday, a company spokesperson told WABNEWS. Despite Twitch’s swift action to remove the content, clips and copies of the disturbing video of the shooting, which police say was a racially motivated hate crime, quickly spread to other social media platforms over the weekend. week.

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While Twitch may not be as well-known a name as other big social platforms, the Amazon-owned service has gained immense popularity in recent years beyond gaming. Twitch has become a destination for watching others play video games, raise goats and other animals, and even just sleep.

But its main feature, live streaming, poses a huge set of challenges. Live video and live audio have proven difficult to moderate effectively for various social platforms, given their real-time and ephemeral nature.

“The vast majority of content that appears on Twitch disappears the moment it is created and viewed,” the company said in a statement. transparency report of 2021 . “That fact requires us to think about community safety and health differently than other services that rely primarily on pre-recorded and uploaded content.”

To address this issue, Twitch relies on a combination of machine detection systems, human moderators, and user reports to identify content that violates its guidelines, much like other social platforms. But as the Buffalo mass shooting shows, even taking action a couple of minutes after a broadcast begins may not be enough to stop the video from spreading online.

Anti-Semite and white supremacist, this is how the Buffalo attacker proclaims himself 2:18

Twitch has previously been in the news for violent videos: A gunman who killed two people in a 2019 shooting near a synagogue in Germany livestreamed the attack on Twitch before it was eventually removed by the platform. Twitch said in a statement at the time that it was “shocked and saddened” by the incident in Germany, stressing that the platform “has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct.”

A 180-page document that has been attributed to the Buffalo shooting suspect allegedly references how the 2019 attack in Germany was streamed on Twitch and remained online before being removed. (The Twitch video of the Germany attack was 35 minutes long.)

Here’s what you need to know about Twitch as it comes under scrutiny again following the deadly attack in Buffalo.

What is Twitch?

Launched in 2011 and acquired by Amazon in 2014 for nearly $1 billion, Twitch initially gained immense popularity among the online gaming community. The platform says it has an average anytime audience of more than 2.5 million users and has more than 31 million average daily visitors.

The platform has gone beyond gaming content, attracting a broader range of digital viewers and creators who live stream on topics ranging from pop culture to music. Users do not need an account to tune in to a live stream.

A report A recent report from live streaming software company Streamlabs found that Twitch accounted for more than 90% of the market share in hours streamed compared to competitors YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming during the first three months of 2022.

Who uses it?

The same report said that Twitch’s most viewed category since the end of 2020 has been the broad “Just Chatting” category. The Just Chatting page features everything from videos about the Johnny Depp libel trial to cooking tutorials.

Nearly 75% of Twitch users are between the ages of 16 and 34, said the company. Politicians like Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and former President Donald Trump have used Twitch in an apparent attempt to appeal to younger voters. However, a Trump campaign Twitch account was eventually suspended in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

What problems has Twitch faced before?

In addition to the attack broadcast live in Germany in 2019, Twitch also had to address videos of a mass shooting that year at two mosques in New Zealand, which left 51 people dead. The attacker first live-streamed the attack on Facebook, but it was later shared on Twitch. Twitch took legal action in 2019 against users who posted the mass shooting video and other content on the platform, Bloomberg reported at the time.

Like other big platforms, Twitch has been forced to deal with the spread of online bullying. In particular, it grabbed headlines last year when a group of streamers campaigned to boycott Twitch for a day amid a rise in “hate raids.” Hate raids, which have found huge popularity on Twitch, typically involve users ambushing a Twitch streamer’s chat with a barrage of similar hate messages, usually consisting of racist, transphobic, or other comments directed at marginalized groups. Twitch has tried to crack down on this behavior, including updating the tools it uses to respond to them.

How does Twitch’s response compare to other platforms?

Twitch said the video of the Buffalo suspect was removed from the platform less than two minutes after the violence began. While this is noticeably faster than the 17 minutes it reportedly took for Facebook to remove the 2019 New Zealand shooting video, critics including New York Governor Kathy Hochul charged that the platforms failed to remove it “in question of seconds”.

In a statement sent to WABNEWS confirming that the shooting was broadcast on its platform, Twitch said the user “has been indefinitely suspended from our service and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring any accounts re-streaming this content.” The company did not immediately respond to follow-up questions.

Spokespeople for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit told WABNEWS they have banned sharing of the video on their sites and are working to identify and remove copies of it.

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