- Seven members of SF Pride voted to ban Google and its affiliates from future parades, arguing that the company does not do enough to protect the LGBTQ community.
- There were debates over whether or not the vote is legally binding since only 12 of the 326 members were present.
- The organization said its board will meet on Feb. 5 to determine what happens next.
What Prompted the Vote?
YouTube and its parent company, Google, may no longer be welcome at San Francisco’s annual LGBTQ pride parade after a group of event organizers voted to ban them from future festivities.
Members of San Francisco Pride passed the resolution against Google and its affiliates on Jan. 15, saying the company is not doing enough to protect members of the LGBTQ community, particularly when it comes to hate speech and harassment on YouTube.
Though YouTube has been a long-time supporter of the LGBTQ community in terms of corporate marketing, it’s faced a ton of backlash in recent months from critics who accused the platform of not supporting the community with its policies.
For many, this became apparent when Vox journalist Carlos Maza said he had been a victim of homophobic and racist harassment at the hands of conservative commentator Steven Crowder. Maza claimed that over the course of two years, Crowder called him names including “Mr.Gay Vox,” “lispy queer,” and “anchor baby.”
YouTube initially responded by letting Crowder’s videos stand, saying that while his comments were hurtful, they did not violate community guidelines. Instead, the platform suspended Crowder’s ability to earn ad revenue.
That decision sparked widespread outrage both from the general public and internally. Soon after, over 140 Google employees signed a letter asking SF Pride to drop Google from its parade. Meanwhile dozens of others marched to protest against the company’s policies, despite being warned that doing so would violate Google’s code of conduct and potentially cost them their jobs.
About six months after the Maza- Crowder controversy, the company updated its harassment policy, banning content that contains malicious insults based on race, gender expression, or sexual orientation. But organizers say that isn’t enough to protect LGBTQ users and argue that creators like Crowder still remain popular on the platform.
Is the Vote Legal?
The vote marks a huge change in the attitude that many have towards Google, which was once viewed as a corporate leader in its support of the LBGTQ community.
“Companies are no longer scared to be seen as pro-LGBTQ; in fact, their participation is a great opportunity for them. We believe companies should earn that opportunity by proving that they really do stand with our community,” the members seeking to ban Google said in a statement to Recode.
However, it’s important to note that the vote represents only a small percentage of the organization given that only about 12 of the 326 members were present at the time. Seven people voted in favor of the ban, according to the interim executive director, Fred Lopez.
Lopez told Recode that some members of the board questioned whether the vote was legally binding without the board’s approval. Others argued that members do have the authority to pass the ban since current bylaws don’t appear to restrict them from making amendments.
Lopez explained that the group was looking into the legality of the vote saying, “Our legal team is reviewing the implications of last week’s vote by seven of Pride’s 326 members. Our Board of Directors will meet February 5th to determine our next step.”
The effort to ban Google is being led by former Google employee Laurence Berland, who claims the company fired him for workplace organizing. Google denied this claim and told Recode that Berland violated company data security policies. However, Berland has been fighting for Google to be banned since last June, when he was still working for the company and is now urging the board to approve the motion at the Feb. 5 meeting.
Meanwhile, Google has expressed disappointment in the news. “Google has been a proud supporter of San Francisco Pride for over a decade,” the company told Recode in a statement.
“We’re saddened that seven members, including a recently fired employee, decided to recommend banning Google, YouTube, and our employees from supporting this important community organization. SF Pride has over 300 members and a separate board that makes the ultimate decision on participation; we’ll continue to work with the San Francisco Pride board and its broader membership on next steps.”
The spokesperson also defended the company against claims that it doesn’t support the LGBTQ community, pointing out that Google has opposed laws that target the LGBTQ individuals and has provided employees with same-sex health benefits that include coverage of gender reassignment surgery.
See what others are saying: (Recode) (Tubefilter) (SF Gate)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
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.
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.
Twitch Blames Server Configuration Error for Hack, Says There’s No Indication That Login Info Leaked
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.
The Entirety of Twitch Has Been Leaked Online, Including How Much Top Creators Earn
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.
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.