The bad boy of Twitch, Dr Disrespect, received a suspension from the streaming site after disrespecting California privacy laws at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles. His account was removed right after his stream ended and neither Twitch nor Dr Disrespect has commented on the length of the suspension or the severity of his punishment.
This ban is one of several recent high profile bans on Twitch and no matter how Twitch decides to deal with it this story, it will undoubtedly weave into the colorful tapestry of streamer suspensions. Fans are already speculating wildly about what this will mean for "Two Times" channel and we can hardly blame them; if you know anything about how Twitch handles rule breakers, you know it is often inconsistent and unfair.
Twitch's Rules And Guidelines
Twitch handles suspensions on a case by case basis. This is partly because the world of streaming is constantly growing and a rigid set of rules couldn't be applied to every unprecedented issue that comes up. The other part of this, which it no doubt picked up from other social media sites like Twitter, is that if you don't tell people what the rules are, then you can punish or not punish offenders however you see fit at the time.
Twitch's official help article on suspensions states: "We suspend accounts that violate our Terms of Service and/or Community Guidelines. Most violations will result in a temporary suspension of one day up to 30 days, and a strike on the account. We may also remove content associated with the violation. If your account is suspended, you may not access or use Twitch services, including watching streams, broadcasting, and chatting. After the suspension is complete, you will be able to use our services once again. After two strikes, the next violation will result in an indefinite suspension, but some severe violations will result in an indefinite suspension on the first violation."
As you can see, this language is deliberately vague. "Most" violations will result in a temporary suspension for an arbitrary amount of days between one and 30, but "some severe violations" will result in a perma-ban. This is all very subjective and has led to a backlash from streamers and viewers who have become the victims of unfair and inconsistent punishment, and it's happening more and more often.
Previous Twitch Bans
League Of Legends streamer Pink Ward was suspended for 30 days for supposedly saying the N-word on his stream. Pink Ward claims he said the word "yikers," which is also tough to make out, but if you watch the clip it's obvious he didn't say the racial slur. However, a 30-day ban was upheld. He posted an update video on his YouTube channel explaining to his fans that Twitch ignored his appeal and closed the ticket without comment. This also puts him in a kind of probation when he returns, which means that he will not be eligible for Twitch Partner for the next four months.
This would be an easier pill to swallow if all situations in which streamers were misheard and believed to be violating the terms of service were treated the same way. However, this isn't the case. Team Liquid player TF Blade was in an almost identical situation when his account was banned for 30 days in April. Twitch Moderators believed that TF Blade also used the N-word on stream, though he claims he only said "idiots." After an outpouring of support from his viewers and Team Liquid, his suspension was reduced from 30 days to one week. However, it's unclear why Pink Ward wasn't given the same treatment.
These situations are not unique in the slightest. Recently, a number of World Of Warcraft streamers have been banned for talking about the sea creature "Nagas." At the moment, these suspensions are indefinite and potentially permanent. Twitch never comments on these types of bans and the streamers themselves are rarely provided with information about why they are banned or for how long.
When it comes to "severe violations" that result in permanent bans, the cases are varied and the severity of the offense is often debatable. Back in February, popular streamer HelenaLive received a permanent ban purportedly for saying "there are only two genders" on stream. Granted, this was her third offense for what Twitch labeled "hate speech." Twitch has banned streamers for receiving subs bought with stolen credit cards, for overly sexual content (but not others,) and even for listening to a song.
Though some assume that Dr Disrespect assume is too popular to receive any kind of punishment - and it certainly seems like some streamers receive preferential treatment - streamers with huge audiences can and have been banned. In 2017, one of the pioneers of IRL streaming Ice_Poseidon was banned after a viewer called in a bomb threat for the plane he was on. When his channel went down, Ice_Poseidon had almost 300,000 followers and 14.5 million views.
Then, there is MrDeadMoth, a Fortnite streamer who assaulted his wife on stream. He was arrested but was only given a two-week suspension from Twitch. When he returned to streaming, people were (rightfully) very upset and he was eventually re-banned, this time permanently.
What happens to Dr Disrespect remains unclear. Likely, he will only receive the minimum punishment of 24 hours since this is his first offense, but as you can see, there is nothing to base that assumption on. Twitch is notoriously inconsistent and uncommunicative when it comes to these situations. It's a problem that is only becoming worse and, despite revising its community guidelines in February, there is simply too much ambiguity about how it handles violations. Perhaps high profile cases like this will bring attention to the problem, or it might be the last we will hear of Dr Disrespect.