Twitch as a platform has always struggled with issues around harassment and toxicity, but within the past few months, the frequency of hate raids -- where bots flood streamers' chats with racist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise hateful messages --has increased to the point that many streamers staged a walkout protest September 1. On Thursday Twitch took two anonymous users to court for allegedly "targeting black and LGBTQIA+ streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist and other harassing content," which is in violation of Twitch's terms of service.
"We hope this Complaint will shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks and the tools that they exploit, dissuade them from taking similar behaviors to other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community," a Twitch spokesperson told Wired.
The lawsuit was filed in the Northern California US District Court, and is aimed at Twitch users "Cruzzcontrol" and "CreatineOverdose." Twitch believes they are based in the Netherlands and Vienna, Austria, respectively.
In the lawsuit, Twitch said it took swift action initially, suspending and then permanently banning their accounts. But according to the streaming platform, "they evaded Twitch’s bans by creating new, alternate Twitch accounts, and continually altering their self-described ‘hate raid code’ to avoid detection and suspension by Twitch." The suit alleges that both users still have access to multiple normal and bot Twitch accounts, and that the users claim they can "generate thousands of bots in minutes for this purpose." Twitch estimates that Cruzzcontrol is responsible for about 3,000 of the bots connected to the recent hate raids.
The suit also claims that Cruzzcontrol and CreatineOverdose may be part of a “hate raiding community,” which uses Steam and Discord to find targets and coordinate attacks.
Though it's still unclear how the suit will pan out, this is hopefully the first of many steps Twitch is taking to hold hate raiders accountable and make the platform a safer place.