Over the past few weeks, streamers on Twitch have been speaking out against the abuse and harassment they receive simply for being marginalized people on the platform. On September 1, some streamers are planning to boycott the platform in order to make their voices heard.
On Twitch, "raiding" is often a positive action. Sometimes, when one streamer ends their stream, they encourage their viewers to watch another streamer who's still going. Essentially, you're asking your viewers to "raid" another channel, bombarding them with love.
A "hate raid" is different. It takes what's normally a positive occurrence—an influx of new viewers—and turns it into something terrifying. All of a sudden, a streamer's chat is full of hateful messages, often targeting them because of the ways that they are marginalized. This problem has been increasing in severity on Twitch all summer.
Raven, who streams on Twitch under the moniker RekItRaven, was hate raided in early August and posted the clip to Twitter. This wasn't the first time it had happened to them; in July, they posted a clip of a stream where their chat was spammed with the phrase, "Hey, are black goths called Giggers?"
During this stream, Raven's chat was spammed with similarly racist messages. When Raven posted this clip to Twitter, it clearly struck a chord. They began hearing about similar stories from other streamers, of coordinated harassment in their chats using specific, hateful language.
"Each account of hate was disgusting and it has become more and more prevalent," Raven told Waypoint, "so I decided to speak up and so many others did as well."
Initially Raven started the hashtag TwitchDoBetter, in response to a tweet from February 2018, where the platform asked its users to hold them accountable. Now Raven and fellow streamers ShineyPen and Lucia Everblack are planning a daylong boycott of the platform on September 1, called A Day Off Twitch. They hope to continue to raise attention to the harassment marginalized people face on Twitch, and Twitch's insufficient response.
"I think [hate raids] are a fairly large issue especially right now," Lucia told Waypoint. "It's a sign that there is a huge uptick in unchecked harassment which is becoming a norm of the platform's culture."
In response to the TwitchDoBetter hashtag, the Twitch twitter account posted a thread regarding the ongoing harassment of marginalized people on their platform.
"No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for," the thread reads. "Hate spam attacks are the result of highly motivated bad actors, and do not have a simple fix."
Although Twitch outlined a few ways that it's hoping to make the platform safer in this thread, none of the organizers of A Day Off Twitch feel like this is sufficient action.
Raven, Lucia, and Shiney all told Waypoint that the raids seem to be targeting black streamers and streamers who are LGBTQ in particular. To Shiney, getting hate raided is a matter of when, not if.
"I haven't been hate raided, yet. I have gotten a few follow bots and have witnessed hate raids. These hate raids are definitely hitting the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities hardest," Shiney told Waypoint. "I'm a newer creator on the platform and based on people's comments, these issues on Twitch aren't new."
"I understand not wanting to expose the products and tools they're working on because the people committing these hate raids are smart, but saying they'll be out 'eventually' is not enough," Raven said. "I want marginalized groups to not fear pressing the 'go live' button. None of us woke up this morning and thought 'Hey, I really wanna be oppressed today for my skin color, gender identity or sexual preference.' I want Twitch to take us seriously. We're not tokens for Black History Month, Pride Month, AAPI Heritage Month. We are real, living, breathing, hard working people."
Taking the time off the platform means taking a financial hit, especially for smaller streamers. Raven, Lucia and Shiney encourage people who want to support the boycott to donate to their favorite streamer who is participating in the event. They also said that amplifying the voices of marginalized streamers is imperative.
Just lifting the voices of those who are participating or are affected is huge," Raven said. "It costs nothing to retweet something from someone else."