When the biggest Fortnite streamer in the world leaves your platform, there's going to be a void: but I imagine Twitch wasn't planning on porn being the content to fill it.
After Tyler "Ninja" Blevins left Twitch for rival platform Mixer 10 days ago, visitors to his channel were redirected to a variety of other Fortnite streams - and one stream in particular got Twitch into serious trouble. Last night, Blevins tweeted a video criticising how Twitch had turned his channel into an "ad page" - and one of the promoted streams was a porn broadcast.
"I've been streaming for eight years to build that brand and build that channel", Blevins said. "There was a porn account that was number one recommended on my channel. And I have no say in any of this stuff."
Disgusted and so sorry. pic.twitter.com/gnUY5Kp52E— Ninja (@Ninja) August 11, 2019
Understandably upset, Blevins called for the adverts and his entire channel be removed - a wish Twitch has partially granted, having removed all the advertised streams from his channel. While the promotion of porn was unintentional on Twitch's part, the platform's failure to remove the NSFW stream - and its quick promotion on Ninja's channel thanks to Twitch's algorithms - was an obvious cock-up, and Twitch's CEO Emmett Shear has apologised to Blevins on Twitter.
"Our community comes to Twitch looking for live content. To help ensure they find great, live channels we've been experimenting with showing recommended content across Twitch, including on streamer's pages that are offline," Shear wrote.
"This helps all streamers as it creates new community connections. However, the lewd content that appeared on the Ninja offline channel page grossly violates our terms of service, and we've permanently suspended the account in question.
"On a more personal note, I want to apologise directly to Ninja that this happened. It wasn't our intent, but it should not have happened. No excuses."
Despite the apology, many in the Twitch community remain unhappy with the company, highlighting another ongoing controversy surrounding streamer Alinity Divine, who's been accused of dropping a racial slur on-stream. Divine claims the slur was a result of a mispronunciation, but the streamer has also been criticised for throwing her cat mid-broadcast (and in a separate incident, spitting vodka into a cat's mouth). Users are unhappy that she has so far received no negative consequences, with one petition calling for her to be banned receiving 46k signatures.
English is not my first language, I mispronounce and mumble words.— Alinity (@AlinityTwitch) August 11, 2019
I'm sorry to anyone offended by things they think I said.
I didn't call my teammate a slur, I stumbled on my words telling him "your next prime is in the channel"????
Only a few weeks ago, Dr. Disrespect (real name Guy Beahm) was temporarily banned for streaming himself in an E3 bathroom - a punishment that lasted a mere two weeks. Blevins, similarly, at one point said the n-word and was only required to apologise. Both events raised questions about how Twitch enforces its terms and conditions, with some accusing Twitch of giving popular streamers preferential treatment.
Having said that, Twitch has been known to suspend big streamers, with both Pink Ward and TFue receiving 30-day bans this year for the (disputed) use of racial slurs. Perhaps the main problem here is inconsistency.
Twitch's problems with moderation and dodgy algorithms, meanwhile, go way beyond the promotion of porn on Ninja's channel. In December, my report into Twitch's casino section found that illegal online casinos were being streamed and advertised on the platform, with no age gates, and were easily viewable from the Twitch home page. Since then Twitch has split up the casino section (making it harder to find), but there are still no age gates to watch gambling: and the two illegal casinos are still being streamed and advertised in the slots category.