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Blizzard is stepping up and partnering with Twitch to help fix the issue of chat moderation and harassment. After years of Twitch allowing their live chat to get worse and worse, it became very public last week during DreamHack Austin. During a Hearthstone tournament Terrence Miller, a black competitor, recieved incredible amounts abuse in Twitch chat. While Terrence wasn’t aware of the chat’s contents during the stream, nor was he surprised by it afterward, his family watching him in the tournament did see it. And clearly this level of hatred and abuse disturbed Blizzard.
“We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event the weekend before last,” President of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime said, “we feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community.”
It’s a shame such a simple rule against racism, sexism, and harassment has to be so clearly stated, but it’s about damn time someone said it.
Twitch and Blizzard will begin a pilot program that will help streamline live chat moderation and limit ways users can get around chat bans. They will also encourage better moderator checks and balances. After DreamHack Austin, a moderator revealed that some of the moderators were actually unbanning users in chat who were using racist and hateful language. While individual streams set their own moderators, these bigger, publisher/developer run streams should have moderation set in place before any event starts.
Twitch live chats have been abysmal for a long time now. Twitch’s focus has clearly been elsewhere, and until a major publisher like Blizzard was effected nothing was ever going to change. Live chat moderation isn’t easy and is often quite stressful, but to ignore it and allow your site to be host to hatred makes you an accomplice. It’s wonderful to see Twitch finally stepping up and fixing the problem, it’s only too bad Miller’s family had to see it first.