Twitch Implements Mandatory Content Labels for Streamers
- Jun 22, 2023
Twitch has recently introduced mandatory content labels for all its streamers as a way to ensure that viewers can make informed choices about the content they watch. Replacing the previous "Mature Content" toggle, these labels can be applied or removed at any point during a broadcast and cover various categories, including mature-rated games, sexual themes, drugs, and gambling. Streamers who fail to accurately label their content will receive a warning from Twitch and may face account suspension if they persistently ignore the guidelines.
The new "Content Classification Labels" aim to provide transparency and make it easier for viewers to decide whether a particular stream is suitable for their preferences. These labels include mature-rated games, sexual themes, drugs, intoxication or excessive tobacco use, violent and graphic depictions, significant profanity or vulgarity, and gambling. Automatic labeling will be applied to streams featuring games rated for mature audiences by the ESRB. However, some aspects of the policy remain open to interpretation, leading to potential confusion among streamers and viewers alike.
For example, Twitch states that occasional swearing or genuine reactions to moments in horror games do not require the "significant profanity or vulgarity" label. However, more aggressive or targeted language would necessitate the use of this label. Similarly, while sipping an alcoholic drink during a stream does not require the "drugs, intoxication, or excessive tobacco use" label, appearing visibly intoxicated or focusing on drinking as the main theme of the stream would. The definition of "sexual themes" also raises questions, with Twitch specifying that prolonged or repeated kissing and non-educational discussions of sexual topics fall under this category.
Hot tub and ASMR streams, which have been a source of controversy on the platform, are also addressed in the new guidelines. Twitch considers kissing or licking a microphone as part of ASMR to be sexual in nature and requires the "sexual themes" label. Hot tub streams that draw attention to specific body parts, such as the buttocks, groin, or breasts, also need to be labeled accordingly. The gambling label is particularly relevant given the recent signing of popular streamer xQc by gambling-friendly streaming competitor Kick for a staggering $100 million over two years.
These content labels are now live on Twitch, with warnings being issued from the present time. However, streamers will not begin to accrue warnings, which can lead to stricter punishments, until after July 20, 2023. It remains to be seen how effective these labels will be in addressing the ongoing concerns about the content on the platform, but their introduction marks a significant step by Twitch towards greater transparency and user choice.