Twitch ban hammer now avenges users in the physical world

The video game streaming platform Twitch just fired a warning shot at all would-be harassers of Twitch users both on and offline. They've updated the way their "off-service enforcement" policy is written, splitting into two categories. Category one covers someone harassed on Twitch as well as off Twitch. Category two covers serious misconduct that poses a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community "even if these actions occur entirely off Twitch."

Widening the circle of protection

We may one day look back on this moment as an important point in history. If what Twitch suggests today is true, they've just expanded their circle of protection beyond their online borders. Like a physical community, a club, or even an internationally recognized country, Twitch suggests now that they'll take action against those who would seek to harm any of their people, either online or offline.

This isn't the start of Twitch taking action against "serious, clear misconduct that took place off-service." But as Twitch suggested today, they "didn't have an approach that scaled."

How Twitch will handle this process

Twitch won't act as its own police force, nor will it work without necessary involvement of governmental law enforcement. Per a Twitch representative: "For behaviors that take place off Twitch, we must rely more heavily on law enforcement and other services to share relevant evidence before we can move forward."

Twitch is "bringing on a highly-regarded third party investigative partner" that'll support their internal team "with these investigations." The partner is what Twitch calls "an experienced investigations law firm that is dedicated to conducting independent workplace and campus investigations including those related to sexual discrimination or assault."

Reporting misconduct

To take part in reporting harmful or inappropriate behavior, Twitch has a "Twitch reporting tool" as well as an email address at OSIT (at) Twitch.TV. A list of potential offenses can be found at Twitch now. This list will expand in the future.

Why this matters

This move shows that brands, social networks, and online communities of all sorts can take more responsibility for the people that make their organization work. We're not quite at the point at which any one online-first group is capable of replacing the physical-first groups we call countries – but maybe someday?