Last month, a group of trolls posted videos in Twitch’s Artifact category. The videos included porn, copyrighted movies and television shows, illegal content, and hateful imagery — plus a video of the Christchurch massacre.
The attack led to Twitch temporarily suspending new accounts from live streaming. Now, Twitch is suing the trolls involved in the attack, as reported by Bloomberg.
The anonymous accounts are referred to as, “John and Jane Does 1-100,” within the lawsuit. According to Bloomberg, Twitch hopes to learn their identities in order to ban them from the platform and force them to pay damages.
A Twitch spokesperson told The Verge:
“Over the weekend of May 25, we became aware of a number of accounts engaging in a coordinated attack targeting the ‘Artifact’ game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service. We worked with urgency to remove the offending content and suspend all accounts engaged in this behavior, and are taking measures to prevent this from happening on our service in the future. We take these violations extremely seriously—we are pursuing litigation to identify these bad actors, and will take all appropriate actions to protect our community.”
People live streaming hateful or disturbing contents online is nothing new — especially not on gaming services like Twitch. After the Christchurch shooter live streamed his attack on mosques in New Zealand, gaming platform, Valve had to remove 100 profiles that praised him.
Dozens of users on the site offered tribute to the shooter. One profile showed a GIF of the attack while others called the shooter a “saint,” “hero,” or referred to him as “Kebab Remover,” Kotaku reported.
The Christchurch shooting video resurfacing on Twitch isn’t shocking, because most platforms struggled to contain the video immediately after the shooting. Even Facebook — where the shooting livestreamed — was unable to completely stop the video’s spread across its platforms.
What’s most interesting about Twitch’s lawsuit is that it even exists. Most online platforms have huge issues with hateful content, but they generally don’t sue users. Facebook didn’t even go after individual users for sharing the Christchurch shooting video.
Part of that is because platforms rely on engagement. If you make people afraid of appearing anonymous on your site, then you can lose out on a lot of users.
It’s unclear how Twitch’s lawsuit will turn out, but it does serve as a reminder that even if you don’t attach a name to an account, it doesn’t mean you can’t be sued.