Last night, Twitch reinstated Guy “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm’s Twitch channel, opening the door back for the bombastic livestream personality to return to the platform.
Dr. Disrespect was banned during E3 2019 after he hosted several livestream segments within public bathrooms, broadcasting people without their consent. This both a violation of California law, where the convention was located, and a clear violation of Twitch Terms of Service. So Dr. Disrespect was banned from Twitch entirely. E3 revoked his badge and apparently banned him from future events.
For those wondering, Beahm violated California Penal Code 647(j) otherwise known as the “invasion of privacy” law. This law states that it is illegal for a person to view the inside of a room or area in which a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in. It is also illegal under this law to film identifiable persons without their documented and informed consent within those same areas. Violations of this and related laws are punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of $1,000.
So it’s pretty lucky that the streamer has gotten off this lucky, at least for him.
And almost immediately, the internet seemed split on the decision. Many supported the decision to remove him for doing something so blatantly out of bounds, but a growing number of fans began to whine about censorship and calling the ban an overreaction.
It’s not really a surprising move for Twitch to bring back one of their top earners. Since the news broke and the channel was reinstated, a steady stream of supporters have been flooding the chat of the streamer with supportive messages and donations.
But I have to wonder, is this really a healthy response? Dr. Disrespect broke the law in a US state and violated the TOS for Twitch, but this feels more like a publicity stunt that went well for him than anything else. And Twitch is certainly going to rake in cash from this whole thing. Once Dr. Disrespect hosts a new stream, we can expect an explosion of support and subscribers to flood back to him.
This whole thing sends a message that people in positions of power are often immune from consequences for their actions. Infamous and overly-wealthy man-child Logan Paul wasn’t even banned from YouTube after he filmed the body of a suicide victim in Japan, many would argue that was an even more egregious action. This latest lack of tangible blowback is another example of how the internet has emboldened increasingly suspect behavior all for sake of going viral.
There’s no doubt that his channel has taken a hit though. Dr. Disrespect has lost a fairly large number of subscribers since he was banned, currently sitting at around 7,000 from an average of over 20,000 a month. It remains to be seen if he’s learned his lesson, but some including myself remain skeptical, and it will also be very interesting how his subscriber numbers bounce back after he returns to streaming.