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Twitch Ends Partnership with Safety Advisory Council

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 3, 2024

Twitch Ends Partnership with Safety Advisory Council

Twitch, the Amazon-owned game-streaming platform, announced it will be terminating all members of its Safety Advisory Council, effective May 31, 2024. This decision concludes a four-year collaboration where the council played a pivotal role in shaping trust and safety policies on the platform, including measures against cyberbullying and the safety of marginalized groups.

Members of the Safety Advisory Council

Established in May 2020, the Safety Advisory Council was composed of nine members, including industry experts, streamers, and moderators.

Notable members included Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center; Emma Llansó, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Free Expression Project; and Dr. T.L. Taylor, co-founder and director of AnyKey, an advocacy group for diversity and inclusion in gaming. These advisors consulted on a range of critical issues such as child safety on Twitch, the management of nudity and banned users, and the drafting of new policies aimed at enhancing platform moderation and safety.

Key Contributions of the Council

The council’s contributions over the years included advising on policies related to “hate raids” on marginalized groups, guidelines on nudity, and overall user protection. Their insights helped Twitch develop products and features to improve moderation and safety, as well as to safeguard the interests of marginalized communities.

The decision to disband the council was communicated to members during a meeting on May 6, following an email notice about the termination of their contracts. This email specified that not only would their contracts end on May 31, but they would also not receive the scheduled payments for the second half of 2024.

Why Was the Safety Advisory Council Disbanded?

According to Twitch, this change aligns with the company’s shift towards leveraging Twitch Ambassadors, described as users recognized for their positive impact on the community, to assume roles similar to those of the council members.

The role of Twitch Ambassadors in the revamped Safety Advisory Council will be to offer fresh, diverse perspectives on trust and safety issues. The company emphasizes that this new format will involve a greater number of voices and insights into platform policies. However, details on the payment for Twitch Ambassadors or how the transition will be managed financially were not disclosed, despite the previous council members being compensated between $10,000 and $20,000 annually.

This restructuring occurs in a broader context of financial austerity within the tech industry, particularly within safety and ethics departments, which have often been viewed as cost centers rather than integral components of business operations.

Over the past year, Twitch has reduced its workforce significantly, including a notable reduction in its trust and safety team, which lost about 15% of its staff. This reduction came at a time when the need for effective content moderation has arguably never been more critical, given the rising incidents of cyberbullying and the spread of misinformation.

In response to inquiries about these changes, a Twitch spokesperson noted, “new council members [have been brought in] to offer fresh, diverse perspectives.” Furthermore, the spokesperson mentioned that the platform currently includes over 180 streamers within its ambassador program, adding, “with this new format, we’ll be able to pull in even more voices and perspectives.”

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Featured Image courtesy of LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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