Dozens of streamers have come out with allegations that they were abused by men on the platform.
Posted on June 24, 2020, at 6:02 p.m. ET
Dozens of Twitch streamers have pledged to go dark on Wednesday in protest after widespread allegations of sexual abuse against some of the platform’s top personalities.
Over the last few days, numerous allegations have surfaced, mostly from women, saying that they’ve been sexually harassed, assaulted, or faced sexism at the hands of powerful streamers. Amid the reckoning, several of the accused have issued apologies or gone dark on social media, and the CEO of Online Performers Group, a talent agency that works with streamers, has resigned.
Frustrated by a lack of action from Twitch itself, some streamers have chosen to suspend their stream for a day as part of a #TwitchBlackout.
The idea was the results of several people, but the first public tweet came from SirKatelyn, a Twitch streamer from Northern California.
“Me and a friend of mine kind of both simultaneously had the idea that what might happen if a lot of us didn’t stream for a day, if we just opted out,” Katelyn told BuzzFeed News. “It was the idea to get eyes on how we’re feeling about the platform with now.”
Katelyn said she has not faced abuse from other Twitch streamers herself, but has seen the story after story of abuse as well as racism and sexism on the platform, with little action from Twitch.
“When someone brings up sexual assault allegations against a partner and Twitch doesn’t do anything to punish that partner, that’s part of the cycle of abuse,” she said. “Conversely there are the really good partners who are using their platforms to combat that and that’s something we need to have more of.”
Katelyn is an Affiliate on Twitch, a tier of membership that allows creators to make money and opens up other options on the platform. The step after that is to become a Partner, which opens more opportunities for revenue and greater support from Twitch. Many of the men who have been accused of misconduct are Partners, and many of the allegations involve those men using their status as a way to abuse women.
One of the women who came forward is Erin Marie Hall, know as YourStarling on Twitch. She is also an Affiliate and usually streams using Twitch’s karaoke platform, Twitch Sings.
She said she was once in an abusive relationship with a fellow streamer who would degrade her with insults, saying she was only good for sex and disclosed her previous sex work to her religious family. She said he also would tell her to kill herself.
“The number of times I fell asleep after having a panic attack on the bathroom floor, alone in the dark, not knowing how I could get out, I can’t even count,” she said.
Her alleged abuser told BuzzFeed News that their relationship was “wonderful,” that he’s not abusive, and “I’m not this monster that she’s making me out to be.” He said they broke up amicably.
“Those allegations against me are absolutely not true,” he said.
Hall said she managed to get out of the relationship but, as she gained popularity on Twitch, he sent a tweet about her that she says was a bid to incite harassment. She reported this all to Twitch but never got a response.
Her former boyfriend said the tweet was a “kneejerk” mistake that was deleted within five minutes and that he told Twitch himself that it had been a mistake. He blames Hall for circulating it herself and said Twitch’s guidelines about “witch hunts” made it so he could not respond.
“I’m deeply, deeply hurt by all of this. I want it to end, I’m considering going to law enforcement,” he said.
Hall said a Twitch employee confirmed her case had been discussed, but ultimately gone nowhere. She also heard that in an all hands meeting, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear had outright dismissed allegations.