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YouTube Updates Harassment Policy to Curb Threats and Personal Attacks

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  • YouTube announced new bullying and harassment policies that will prohibit implied threats and malicious insults based on a person’s sexuality, race, or gender expression.
  • Under the new policy, channels who show a pattern of harassing behavior by continuously making remarks that come close to violating the harassment policy could also receive consequences.
  • These changes come several months after a public controversy where former Vox host Carlos Maza accused conservative commentator Steven Crowder of harassing him on his channel. While Crowder did repeatedly call Maza names like “lispy queer,” YouTube said this was not a violation of their policy.
  • Many were not happy with YouTube’s new policy, resulting in #YouTubeIsOverParty trending on Twitter. Some creators say they have already been impacted by the guidelines.

YouTube’s New Policy

YouTube announced new policy changes that will prohibit implied threats and malicious insults based on a person’s sexuality, race, or gender expression.

In a Wednesday blog post, the company announced that it was tightening the rules in regards to its bullying and harassment guidelines. These rules come after months of review with creators, experts from bullying organizations, free speech proponents, and advisers along all sides of the political spectrum.

“Harassment hurts our community by making people less inclined to share their opinions and engage with each other,” YouTube’s post said. “We heard this time and again from creators, including those who met with us during the development of this policy update.”

The company’s first major change aims to take “a stronger stance against threats and personal attacks.” YouTube’s guidelines previously said videos with explicit threats in them would have actions taken against them, and its new policy extends that to include videos with veiled or implied threats.

“This includes content simulating violence toward an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur,” the post explains.  

On top of threatening someone, this will also cover demeaning language that YouTube feels crosses the line. This will include “content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

YouTube also addressed consequences for a “pattern of harassing behavior.” The company’s post says that creators found that harassment sometimes stemmed from remarks repeatedly made over the course of a series of videos or comments. Even though these individual videos or comments may not directly violate YouTube’s policy on their own, the company still has a plan to combat this. 

“Channels that repeatedly brush up against our harassment policy will be suspended from [YouTube Partner Program], eliminating their ability to make money on YouTube,” YouTube said. The platform added that this content could be removed, and channels could receive strikes or be terminated. 

YouTube clarified that these changes would also apply to the platform’s comment section, not just the videos posted. The company believes this will result in the number of comments removed from the site increasing, noting that 16 million were removed in their third quarter. 

YouTube also outlined newer tools that have recently been added that give creators some control over their comment section.

“When we’re not sure a comment violates our policies, but it seems potentially inappropriate, we give creators the option to review it before it’s posted on their channel,” YouTube said.

In the early stages of the roll-out, YouTube saw a 75% reduction in user flags on comments. Most creators now have this setting, but can opt-out of it if they would like. They can also ignore the held comments. 

“We expect there will continue to be healthy debates over some of the decisions and we have an appeals process in place if creators believe we’ve made the wrong call on a video,” the company said of this new update. 

Why Did YouTube Change Its Policy?

Many believe these changes were prompted by the controversy between Carlos Maza, who hosted a series for Vox, and Steven Crowder, who hosts a series called Louder with Crowder on YouTube. Back in May, Maza tweeted a thread calling Crowder out for repeatedly calling him names on his show. Crowder repeatedly referred to Maza as “Mr. Gay Vox,” a “lispy queer,” and “gay Latino from Vox” in a mocking tone. 

Crowder defended himself, saying this should not count as bullying, as he made these comments while providing criticism of Maza’s series. YouTube ended up responding to Maza saying that his comments, while potentially offensive, did not violate their policy.

Maza continued to call YouTube out for this decision. He said this “gives bigots free license” and accused the site of using its gay creators. Many criticized YouTube’s response, which came in June as the company celebrated pride month. Some found it hypocritical for the company to be publically celebrating the LGBTQ community while also allowing comments some perceived as homophobic to stay on their site.

Because of all this backlash, YouTube ended up suspending Crowder’s revenue. This decision was also met with outrage.

Maza and Crowder React

Maza tweeted a thread about the new policy on Wednesday morning. He claims that the real problem is whether or not YouTube will enforce it on all creators, which he thinks is unlikely. 

“YouTube loves to manage PR crises by rolling out vague content policies they don’t actually enforce,” he wrote. “These policies only work if YouTube is willing to take down its most popular rule-breakers. And there’s no reason, so far, to believe that it is.”

Before YouTube made their official announcement, Crowder posted a video titled “Urgent. The YouTube ‘Purge’ Is Coming.” The video was uploaded Tuesday and is based largely on murmurs about what was to come. He said the policies could silence and negatively impact his channel and others like it. 

“Obviously my heart goes out to any future conservative or any future independent voices that are affected because people got their feelings hurt,” he said. 

Policy Gets Negative Feedback

Other creators also shared their reactions, with some saying they were already being impacted by the new changes. Ian Carter, known online as iDubbbz, tweeted a screenshot of an email from YouTube saying his video “Content Cop: Leafy” was taken down for violating guidelines.

He uses vulgar and antagonistic language in the video, and jokes about bullying being okay. Many, however, don’t think the video should have been removed as it was meant to call out someone else’s bad behavior. 

Another creator, Gokanaru said his video critiquing h3h3 productions was removed. 

Some online were frustrated with this, noting that their videos should not be taken down while someone like Onision, who has been accused of predatory behavior and grooming, still has videos online. 

#YouTubeIsOverParty was a trending topic on Twitter by late Wednesday morning. Many used the hashtag to say that the policy could negatively impact creativity on the platform and that YouTube should not try to make this seem like this was a policy that creators asked for.  

Even though the trending topic gained a lot of traction, YouTuber Taylor Harris said that as far as the use of the site goes, YouTube will likely be unimpacted. 

See what others are saying: (Axios) (Tech Crunch) (Vox)

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Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos

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The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.


Bezos Prank

Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws. 

For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform. 

The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.

It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end. 

The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions. 

First Twitch Hack 

Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.

That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019. 

It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.

Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Forbes) (CNET)

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Twitch Blames Server Configuration Error for Hack, Says There’s No Indication That Login Info Leaked

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The platform also said full credit card numbers were not reaped by hackers, as that data is stored externally. 


Login and Credit Card Info Secure

Twitch released a security update late Wednesday claiming it had seen “no indication” that users’ login credentials were stolen by hackers who leaked the entire platform’s source code earlier in the day.

“Full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so full credit card numbers were not exposed,” the company added in its announcement.

The leaked data, uploaded to 4chan, includes code related to the platform’s security tools, as well as exact totals of how much it has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019. 

Early Thursday, Twitch also announced that it has now reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Streamers looking for their new keys can visit a dashboard set up by the platform, though users may need to manually update their software with the new key before being able to stream again depending on what kind of software they use.

As far as what led to the hackers being able to steal the data, Twitch blamed an error in a “server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party,” confirming that the leak was not the work of a current employee who used internal tools. 

Will Users Go to Other Streaming Platforms?

While no major creators have said they are leaving Twitch for a different streaming platform because of the hack, many small users have either announced their intention to leave Twitch or have said they are considering such a move. 

It’s unclear if the leak, coupled with other ongoing Twitch controversies, will ultimately lead to a significant user exodus, but there’s little doubt that other platforms are ready and willing to leverage this hack in the hopes of attracting new users. 

At least one big-name streamer has already done as much, even if largely only presenting the idea as a playful jab rather than with serious intention. 

“Pretty crazy day today,” YouTube’s Valkyrae said on a stream Wednesday while referencing a tweet she wrote earlier the day.

“YouTube is looking to sign more streamers,” that tweet reads. 

I mean, they are! … No shade to Twitch… Ah! Well…” Valkyrae said on stream before interrupting herself to note that she was not being paid by YouTube to make her comments. 

See what others are saying: (Engadget) (BBC) (Gamerant)

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The Entirety of Twitch Has Been Leaked Online, Including How Much Top Creators Earn

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The data dump, which could be useful for some of Twitch’s biggest competitors, could signify one of the most encompassing platform leaks ever.


Massive Collection of Data Leaked 

Twitch’s full source code was uploaded to 4chan Wednesday morning after it was obtained by hackers.

Among the 125 GB of stolen data is information revealing that Amazon, which owns Twitch, has at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library. That library, codenamed Vapor, would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.

With Amazon being the all-encompassing giant that it is, it’s not too surprising that it would try to develop a Steam rival, but it’s eyecatching news nonetheless considering how much the release of Vapor could shake up the market.

The leaked data also showcased exactly how much Twitch has paid its creators, including the platform’s top accounts, such as the group CriticalRole, as well as steamers xQcOW, Tfue, Ludwig, Moistcr1tikal, Shroud, HasanAbi, Sykkuno, Pokimane, Ninja, and Amouranth.

These figures only represent payouts directly from Twitch. Each creator mentioned has made additional money through donations, sponsorships, and other off-platform ventures. Sill, the information could be massively useful for competitors like YouTube Gaming, which is shelling out big bucks to ink deals with creators. 

Data related to Twitch’s internal security tools, as well as code related to software development kits and its use of Amazon Web Services, was also released with the hack. In fact, so much data was made public that it could constitute one of the most encompassing platform dumps ever.

Creators Respond

Streamer CDawgVA, who has just under 500,000 subscribers on Twitch, tweeted about the severity of the data breach on Wednesday.

“I feel like calling what Twitch just experienced as “leak” is similar to me shitting myself in public and trying to call it a minor inconvenience,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t do the situation justice.”

Despite that, many of the platform’s top streamers have been quite casual about the situation.

“Hey, @twitch EXPLAIN?”xQc tweeted. Amouranth replied with a laughing emoji and the text, “This is our version of the Pandora papers.” 

Meanwhile, Pokimane tweeted, “at least people can’t over-exaggerate me ‘making millions a month off my viewers’ anymore.”

Others, such as Moistcr1tikal and HasanAbi argued that their Twitch earning are already public information given that they can be easily determined with simple calculations. 

Could More Data Come Out?

This may not be the end of the leak, which was labeled as “part one.” If true, there’s no reason to think that the leakers wouldn’t publish a part two. 

For example, they don’t seem to be too fond of Twitch and said they hope this data dump “foster[s] more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”

They added that the platform is a “disgusting toxic cesspool” and included the hashtag #DoBetterTwitch, which has been used in recent weeks to drive boycotts against the platform as smaller creators protest the ease at which trolls can use bots to spam their chats with racist, sexist, and homophobic messages.

Still, this leak does appear to lack one notable set of data: password and address information of Twitch users.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the leakers don’t have it. It could just mean they are only currently interested in sharing Twitch’s big secrets. 

Regardless, Twitch users and creators are being strongly urged to change their passwords as soon as possible and enable two-factor authentication.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Video Games Chronicle) (Kotaku)

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