Twitch finally updates “overly punitive,” “confusing” sexual content policy

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Written By Sedoso Feb

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Twitch users have finally pushed the interactive livestreaming service to allow more nudity after years of banning mostly female-presenting streamers who were penalized for violating sexual content policies that Twitch now admits were too confusing.

In one prominent example, just two days before the policy change, Twitch banned OnlyFans model Morgpie for posting “topless” streams. Although Morgpie’s videos were shot to imply nudity, they “never actually showed content that explicitly violated Twitch’s sexual content policies,” TechCrunch reported. To critics, Twitch’s rationale for banning Morgpie remains unclear.

In a blog, Twitch Chief Customer Trust Officer Angela Hession wrote that Twitch “received consistent feedback from streamers that our current policies around sexual content are confusing and that it can be difficult to know how their content will be interpreted based on these policies.”

Hession confirmed that Twitch’s policy prohibiting “content that ‘deliberately highlighted breasts, buttocks or pelvic region,’ even when fully clothed” was confusing.

“Streamers found it difficult to determine what was prohibited and what was allowed and often evaluating whether or not a stream violated this portion of the policy was subjective,” Hession wrote.

Combined with another policy that restricted “sexually suggestive” content, Twitch’s former policy was found to be “overly punitive” and “resulted in female-presenting streamers being disproportionately penalized,” Hession wrote.

In an effort to eliminate confusion, Twitch announced that it had consolidated two separate policies that addressed sexual content under Twitch’s community guidelines into one single sexual content policy. That policy “specifies the types of sexual content that are prohibited on Twitch” and clarifies enforcement.

Another key part of the policy overhaul, Twitch has also begun allowing some sexual content that was previously restricted, so long as appropriate Content Classification Labels (CCLs) indicating sexual themes are applied.

Now, labeled content that “deliberately highlighted breasts, buttocks or pelvic region” is allowed, as well as content with “fictionalized (drawn, animated, or sculpted) fully exposed female-presenting breasts and/or genitals or buttocks regardless of gender” and “body writing on female-presenting breasts and/or buttocks regardless of gender.” Streamers can also label content featuring “erotic dances that involve disrobing or disrobing gestures, such as strip teases.”

These labels will ensure that content is not removed but also prevent mature content from being promoted on the homepage, Hession wrote, ensuring that no Twitch user ever encounters inappropriate content that they do not wish to see. The only exceptions will be made for streams labeled as including mature-rated games and profanity, which will still appear in the main feed on the homepage. Streams with sexual themes labels will, however, still be recommended in the left bar of the homepage, where a thumbnail isn’t displayed.

“We believe that accurate content labeling is key to helping viewers get the experience they expect, and now that we can enable appropriate labeling of sexual content using CCLs we believe that some of the restrictions in our former policies are no longer required,” Hession wrote. “In addition to providing clarity, these updates will also reduce the risk of inconsistent enforcement and bring our policy more in line with other social media services.”

Failing to label sexual content can result in penalties, like warnings, but not suspensions, Hession wrote. Twitch will automatically apply labels to sexual content missing labels, and any repeated failure to label content could result in a label “temporarily locked onto the stream.”

Some sexual content is still prohibited, including pornographic content, youth nudity, “fictionalized sexual acts or masturbation,” and “simulated sexual activity or erotic roleplay with other players in online games.” Uploading such prohibited content can result in content removals or account suspensions. A complete overview of what’s still banned can be found here.

For many Twitch users, changes to the sexual content policy likely feel long overdue. Although her ban is reportedly still in effect, Morgpie praised Twitch’s update in a statement to Dexerto.

“With the updated terms of service, content on Twitch containing mature themes will be allowed but no longer pushed on the homepage of the site,” Morgpie told Dexerto. “I think this is the best possible outcome, because it gives creators much more freedom, while also keeping this content from reaching the wrong audience. Bravo, Twitch!”

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