The terms simp, virgin, and incel will be entirely banned on Twitch as of a new announcement today. The question was posed during today’s Twitch Town Hall broadcast, where company reps and execs spoke about future changes and plans for the platform, The company has started a major crackdown on the terms following what can only be assumed to be some internal strife over the culture of the company and its users. Where this is headed is unclear, but it’s only just begun.
This will policy will ban both the words and emotes referencing the terms. And it will apply universally, meaning it will apply to both streamers and users in their chats who decide to use any of those terms. Twitch’s COO Sara Clemens announced the change on a stream today detailing upcoming changes to the ways Twitch approaches content moderation. And yes, emotes are being banned too.
“Using terms like simp, incel, or virgin to refer as an insult to negatively refer to another person’s sexual activity is not allowed under this new policy,” Clemens said. “In addition to the new policy change, we are actively denying emotes that include the term simp and will remove them when reported.”
It feels unfair to even call this a controversy, because it’s just so idiotic, and a very non-issue. It’s important to note that the full policy changes haven’t been formally revealed yet, this is just the tip of the spear. But if harmless jokes are what you’re leading your charge with, one has to wonder a few things. How will this be enforced? What else will be banned, and why was this nonsense more important?
In a clarifying response to The Verge, the company said that “specifically when they are being used to negatively refer to another person’s sexual practices.” Using such terms on their own, without malice, would not trigger a punishment. Although it’s unclear how such tone policing will be carried out without bias.
It does sound like the banned terms will be expanded to include statements about sexual orientation and other more serious insults, but it all just feels weird that this is the focus first. Maybe this is all an issue of wording and Twitch will walk it back, we will have to wait and see. If they do include banning negative targeted statements about sexual orientation or gender identity, good, but this just feels like a bit of a step too far. Although even then, the problems with enforcement remain. Even when talking about obviously bigoted language, social media companies have had a heck of a time cleaning up the more offensive instances; so how Twitch will cope is anyone’s guess. The statement also mentions more obviously negative terms like “whore” so it seems like this all a very mixed bag of good and bad.
You know what would be nice Twitch, if you spoke to your users in clear terms and told them what your plans are. And if instead of focusing on harmless memes and a “no fun” policy, you focused on genuine harmful behavior. And when you do ban behavior, give people a list of clearly banned instances, and then alter it as time goes on.
Swatting, harassment and genuine toxicity are very widespread on the platform, and you should deal with those first. Or better yet, maybe you should deal with the explosion of DMCA issues by actually supporting the content creators who are your entire livelihood.