A new and detailed report by Bloomberg has highlighted the numbers of children who stream on Twitch, and the number of accounts linked to adult predators who follow and interact with them.
Research includes various examples of children being asked by adult users to engage in explicit or inappropriate activities and perform dances or “dares” while live-streaming. After said streams have ended, the recordings are often viewed by hundreds of other accounts – far more than expected for small channels their size.
The report suggests this is due to “hundreds” of accounts believed to be used by predators, which have collated follower lists each with “more than 1000 kids on their following lists”.
Twitch does not formally allow anyone under the age of 13 to use its services, though – as with all social media – this is a challenge to police.
In response to the article, Twitch said it had made “extensive investements” over the past two years to “better stay ahead of bad actors and prevent any users who may be under 13 from accessing Twitch”.
Verified examples of grooming are esclated by Twitch’s own law enforcement response team – which it says has quadrupled in size over the past two years – and passed to relevant authorities.
Still, with Bloomberg publishing alleged recent examples of grooming, the issue appears to remain.
“Even one single instance of grooming is abhorrent to us, and if it’s valid, the data you reference demonstrates that we are not offering the level of protection we strive for yet – which is deeply upsetting,” wrote Twitch chief product officer Tom Verrilli. “This work is vitally important to everyone at Twitch, and we’ll never stop.”
The report goes into further detail on the rise of Twitch streaming – and reports of grooming – over the era of the pandemic and the issues Twitch faces beyond over social networks at policing live content. It’s live on Bloomberg now and worth a read.