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Twitch Sues to Identify Users Who Uploaded Christchurch Video and Porn to Its Platform

Users posted the violating material to the section of Twitch for Valve-developed game 'Artifact' over Memorial Day weekend.

by Joseph Cox
Jun 17 2019, 4:56pm

Image: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Hugely popular game streaming platform Twitch is suing to identify users that posted abusive material on its service, the company confirmed to Motherboard in a statement. That material included a section of the Christchurch attack video, in which a white supremacist killed over fifty people.

The move is somewhat unusual in the content moderation space, where platforms typically just ban a piece of content or user rather than using the courts to try and identify them. Bloomberg was first to report on the case's filing.

"Over the weekend of May 25, we became aware of a number of accounts engaging in a coordinated attack targeting the 'Artifact' game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service. We worked with urgency to remove the offending content and suspend all accounts engaged in this behavior, and are taking measures to prevent this from happening on our service in the future," a Twitch spokesperson wrote in an email. Twitch is owned by Amazon.

"We take these violations extremely seriously—we are pursuing litigation to identify these bad actors, and will take all appropriate actions to protect our community," the spokesperson added.

Do you work at Twitch? Did you used to? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Earlier this year, various video-game focused outlets reported that Valve game Artifact had zero Twitch viewers at a certain point in April. Posting unrelated and innocuous material onto the Artifact section of Twitch then become something of a meme, before users moved onto violating content.

As Motherboard reported at the time, during Memorial Day weekend multiple users streamed a slew of other material. These streams included the Christchurch video, episodes of copyrighted Game of Thrones, and pornography. Many comments posted during the streams included hate speech directed at Muslims.

In the lawsuit, Twitch says if it is successful in identifying the offending users who violated the site's terms of service, it will ask the court to ban those people from using the site and order them to pay restitution and damages, Bloomberg reported.

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