Streaming giant Twitch went on the hunt in Canada last year for an unidentified man who clogged the service with hateful spam messages. Now they’ve allegedly got their man: Brandan Lukus Apple, who resides in the province of British Columbia.
In 2017, spam messages sent using a service called ChatSurge flooded more than 1,000 Twitch channels with over 150,000 messages, according to a court filing prepared by Twitch. The messages often communicated the usual kind of hateful bile you find on the internet. In response, Twitch filed for a court order to reveal the identity of the person associated with a BC-based IP address, ChatSurge, and several email accounts that Twitch believed to be connected to the person behind the spam.
In civil court filings from 2017, Twitch notes that it connected ChatSurge to an IP address in Coquitlam, BC, after the person behind the service broadcast themselves working on it over Twitch.
According to the CBC, Brandan Apple—who lives in the small city of Coquitlam—now has a criminal charge of "mischief in relation to computer data” against him, in addition to a civil order from the BC Supreme Court that forbids him from creating "any robot, bot, crawler, spider, blacklisting software or other software" aimed at Twitch. The charge of computer mischief has not been proven in court, and Apple’s case will be heard in February. According to the CBC, Apple has not yet entered a plea.
Twitch streamers are in a uniquely vulnerable position online, and are often attacked by their own viewership. Sometimes, this takes the form of distracting honking in-game (known as “stream sniping”), or the much more dangerous practice of SWAT-ing, when a viewer calls in a serious emergency at the streamer’s location in the hopes that the police respond with force. The harassment could also take the form of hateful spam.
The effort that Twitch is putting into the Apple case in Canada shows that, at least in this case, the company is trying to make things better for its streamers.
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