Twitch clarifies what its Safety Advisory Council will do

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Twitch on an iPhone X


Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

Twitch only unveiled its Safety Advisory Council days ago, but it left a few questions unanswered. What will the advisors do, exactly? The livestreaming service now hopes to elaborate. Company chief Emmett Shear has posted a clarification of just why the council exists. The mix of creators and safety experts is meant to inform internal teams when they make community safety decisions. The council won’t make moderation calls, have access to specific cases and won’t represent the company.

Shear also explained just why Twitch chose the initial members it did. It wanted people with “strong independent opinions” from a wide variety of people, including those beyond Twitch. A council spot is “not a test of ideology” or support for a particular point of view, the CEO said.

The follow-up is partly in response to harassment levelled at one of the council’s members. Newsweek reported that Steph “FerociouslySteph” Loehr faced harassment soon after she was named to the council, including overt transphobia as well as attacks on her positions (such as her belief that voice chat in high-level gameplay exposed transgender people to harassment). Critics have claimed that Loehr was attacking other cultural groups, but she has responded by asserting that people were attacking her merely for being different and pushing for acceptance.

Shear didn’t have any intention of kowtowing to those critics. Harassment “only underscores the importance of the council,” he said. The executive may be eager to emphasize limitations on the council’s power, but he also doesn’t want bullying to influence who gets that power.

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