Twitch settings to boost security and privacy
Twitch is a live-streaming platform uniting users with similar interests and hobbies. Live content is spontaneous and compelling, allowing streamers to connect with their fans directly. And the beauty of it is that live audiences get to witness unscripted and genuine emotions. However, as live-streaming technology dominates the landscape, users and streamers alike need to protect their privacy and security. From suppressing hateful comments to concealing your activity on the platform, there are some things you should keep private.
How does Twitch work?
Twitch has been a part of the gaming landscape ever since 2011. The platform works on a simple principle: you find intriguing broadcasts and join them. Then, you get to watch streamers and their planned agenda. Of course, Twitch is most famous for being the home for riveting pro gamers. However, its potential goes beyond that, and the sole association to gaming is no longer accurate.
Twitch allows various communities to thrive, be it gaming enthusiasts or melophiles. It is a platform geared to any taste. If you do not find a group of like-minded individuals, you are welcome to show initiative.
According to Statista, there were 9.36 million active streamers in March of 2021. The content selection is seemingly endless, and users should have no trouble finding communities to join.
But as you watch more broadcasts or stream yourself, it becomes clear that Twitch has its dark side. Only recently, Twitch finally released its transparency report, giving a front-row seat to their processes under-the-hood.
What are some of the highlights and details worth mentioning? Let’s find out.
Security and privacy on Twitch
Notably, Twitch received its biggest boost from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the fierce growth became both a blessing and a curse. As more viewers and streamers joined, the company battled some of the inherent internet problems. Hateful comments, trolls, predators, and other unsavory users tend to ruin the fun for many genuine Twitch users.
Online chats can be a hotbed of graphic language, inappropriate comments, and repulsive content overall. However, administrators and moderators can apply certain filtering technologies in a forum and delete content deemed improper. With live streams, online harassment or inappropriate comments are much more challenging to weed out. Over the years, experts highlighted several pressing issues on Twitch.
Twitch violation hunters
As reported by Kotaku, female streamers face harassment from people scouring Twitch for creators breaking the guidelines. While it might not seem like an issue, dozens have experienced pressure and pestering comments from viewers threatening to report them.
According to Twitch guidelines, streamers should wear clothes appropriate for a restaurant or a public space. However, the platform does not condone harassment towards streamers, regardless of whether viewers see violations or not.
Vulgar, offensive, and hateful comments
It is challenging to build a platform encouraging users to express their opinions and ideas. It is still necessary to supervise the platform by volunteer moderators or AI blocking inappropriate messages.
Twitch has both, but suppressing the massive stream of content proves problematic. According to an ADL survey, 47% of all active Twitch users have experienced harassment.
Bullying and raiding
Many streamers have reported bullying or rude commentary targeted against them. As mentioned by BBC, around 64% of young people have struggled with bullying while playing online games. They also highlighted raiding (which can be a benign activity) as one of the issues.
Raiding means that streamers encourage others to watch or comment on other broadcasts. While it can be a positive boost, some might use it to push offensive language and insults.
Stalking and predators
Loyal fans are not the only thing streamers get. Admirers can become toxic or outright predatory. Additionally, competitors can use distasteful means to affect a rival.
Recent news showed that harassment could reach the real world as well. A Twitch streamer known as Amouranth reported a possible arson incident. A fire started near her home, and authorities suspect that criminals had set it deliberately.
This story is one of the many unfortunate attacks on streamers. Combating them means that content creators need to be extremely careful, especially with disclosing their location.
What can Twitch users and streamers do to protect themselves?
Account takeovers, hurtful comments, and outright vicious users are some of the most common online dangers. Be it a social media, online bank, or live-streaming platform, these threats persist.
The settings below will help you safeguard your Twitch account from malicious individuals and digital attacks.
Your password is only a piece of the puzzle that is your account security. Of course, please create lengthy passwords containing symbols, letters, and numbers. However, it needs reinforcements, battling the issues in case passwords leak. And digital users are no strangers to data breaches and their unpleasant aftermath.
Twitch supports two-factor authentication (2FA), and you should not hesitate to apply it. One of the options is to receive the unique temporary code in your email or phone. However, a more reliable option is to use a dedicated 2FA app.
Blocking unpleasant users
You do not have to endure someone harassing you or sending inappropriate or sexually suggestive messages. Blocking that vicious individual is relatively easy on Twitch.
Firstly, you can block someone in a public chat. Click on the username and the three dots. You should find an option for bidding farewell to that person. An even faster solution is to type /ignore
If you ever change your mind, navigate to the Security and Privacy tab on Twitch. Open Privacy, followed by Show Blocked Users. Via this setting, you can manage already blocked users or ban new ones.
Suppressing harassment and hate in chats
Moderators could oversee the chats on your stream. However, it is in no way easy to detect every offender in a discussion. The AutoMod feature does help as it filters messages and reports suspicious behavior. You can also take a step further to block specific words that typically appear in hateful speech.
Here is how you enable the AutoMod feature (if it is not active already):
- Open the Channel and Videos tab.
- Click on the three bars in the upper left corner. You should find an option called Moderation.
- Pick AutoMod Rulesets to specify which content should go straight to moderators.
- You can also indicate which words you allow in your chat and which ones you do not.
Bots plague the internet more than you realize. Twitch is also one of the platforms battling them daily. Streamers can minimize the risk of being flooded with provocative or outright dangerous messages.
- Open Moderation, which you can find in the Channel and Videos tab.
- Select Channel Privileges.
- You can turn on Email Verification to stop users with unverified mailboxes.
- You can also take another step by specifying how much time users need to follow your stream to chat. This option is available next to the Followers-only mode.
Private messages on Twitch are Whispers. Let’s say you no longer want to receive messages from random viewers. Luckily, you are welcome to block the influx of strangers and their hateful or bizarre opinions.
In Privacy settings, locate the option called Block Whispers from Strangers. Once you enable it, random individuals will no longer be able to contact you first.
Raids can be a component of healthy support systems on Twitch. Other genuine content creators can be friendly and recommend other broadcasts to their viewers. However, if a vicious streamer sends a wave of hateful viewers your way, it can quickly turn toxic.
You can block raids on your Twitch broadcast by following these steps:
- Navigate to the Channel and Videos tab.
- Find an option called Raids.
- You can disable raids from strangers. Additionally, you are welcome to set which users get to retain this privilege.
Concealing subscription details
Twitch streaming could be a secret pleasure that you do not necessarily want to advertise. Thus, you might be uncomfortable with everyone knowing about your subscriptions and gifts. Luckily, you can hide your activity and scour the Twitch without fearing judgment.
You will need to perform several changes:
- Navigate to the Privacy section under the Security and Privacy tab.
- Turn on Hide Progressive Gifter Badge and Gifts Given Count to conceal information about the gifts you have given.
- Turn on Hide Subscription Status to hide information about your subscriptions and their duration.
- Turn on Hide Founder Badge to lock up information about the channels you were the first to subscribe to.
General recommendations for Twitch users
While settings are here to protect you, it is challenging to combat issues that have persisted for decades. Your safety on any platform, including Twitch, relies on how you present yourself.
Thus, the majority of responsibilities rests on your shoulders. As a streamer or viewer, you should follow several rules to make Twitch a unified platform we all want.
- Reveal as little as possible about yourself. Streamers tend to get personal when it comes to their lives. However, you should never reveal specific details, like your location or home address. The same applies to commentators that could post overly private information. Oversharing is never a healthy practice, and your life should not be an open book.
- Avoid hateful comments, even as jokes. What might be fun for you might be highly offensive to another person. Even benign users could receive warnings about inappropriate behavior. Thus, please understand that Twitch is not an environment for unsavory commentary.
- Conceal information about your location. You might not expose your location willingly. There are specific ways for users to extract information on your approximate whereabouts. While Twitch does not allow users to see your IP address, it could be retrieved in other ways. Thus, it is best to use a VPN to mask your IP address and hide your physical location. Additionally, take the time to check whether metadata on your photos does not reveal any location-related information.
If respectful and good-natured attitudes persist on Twitch, we can try to weed out the unsavory characters. Start the change with yourself, and maybe the rest will follow. However, hoping for a quick transformation for the better is somewhat unrealistic. The chances are the platform will need to produce more moderation features and enforce compliance.
Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.