Twitch turns popular charity and safety tools into built-in features


This week, Twitch launched two new features, Twitch Charity and Shared Ban Info, inspired by practices and tools developed by its community. They’ve been well received after a year in which Twitch has been accused by ex-employees and streamers of forsaking community in pursuit of profit.

Twitch Charity, which entered beta on Tuesday, is a built-in fundraising feature that allows streamers to set a goal and enter “charity mode.” This displays a donation button and progress meter next to a broadcast, the proceeds of which go to a charity of the streamer’s choosing via PayPal’s donation system, the PayPal Giving Fund. As a result, Twitch does not take a cut.

Charity streams are immensely popular on Twitch, with streamers collectively (and sometimes individually) managing to raise millions for causes like humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. For years, streamers have had to rely on third-party tools and companies like Tiltify and Softgiving, the latter of which has faced criticism for quietly helping major streamers profit off charity work.

“Why is this better?Simplifying a lot of logistical hassles’ is a pretty decent TL;DR answer,” Twitch wrote in a blog announcing the feature. “For streamers, it makes raising money for important causes easier and transparent. For viewers, it should make supporting those causes simpler, clearer and more impactful.”

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Shared Ban Info, meanwhile, launched Thursday, allowing streamers to quickly and easily share information on viewers they’ve banned from their channels. Once streamers enter into a sharing agreement, users who’ve gotten the boot in other chats can either be automatically restricted (meaning their messages won’t post to public chat unless approved by moderators) or flagged for monitoring. This allows for larger collectives of streamers to enforce community norms not only in their own channels, but across Twitch.

“Rather than making decisions on your behalf, our goal with this tool is to provide you with the information you need to make informed and personalized decisions about who can participate in your community,” Twitch wrote in an FAQ about the feature. “We want to strike a balance between protecting streamers from harassers while still giving streamers control over who is allowed to participate in their communities.”

Previously, streamers could only spread word of rowdy repeat offenders in their chats by taking matters into their own hands — a fact acknowledged by Twitch’s own employees.

“As someone who was a mod in communities with shared audiences prior to working here, this something we’d do manually,” Twitch senior program manager Rob S. said on Twitter. “Love that we’ve now made it a first-party product.”

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Twitch Charity has also received the streamer seal of approval in part for its community ties; the project was spearheaded by a streamer turned Twitch employee named Cassandra who goes by the handle “Friskk.”

These features follow a tumultuous 12 months for Twitch. In March, Bloomberg reported an “exodus” of employees due in part to the company’s drift from its community-centric roots in favor of moneymaking opportunities — like a proliferation of ads — that often negatively impact streamers’ experiences. At that point, streamers were already fuming after the company failed to rapidly respond to an epidemic of so-called “hate raids” in 2021, in which malicious viewers used fake accounts and bots to flood the chats of often-marginalized streamers. Twitch has since redoubled its focus on trust and safety — and communication around relevant features — the company told The Washington Post in a May interview. This week’s new features are part of that initiative.

Even so, Twitch acknowledges that it’s facing an uphill battle.

“No single tool or technology can stop ‘hate raids’ altogether, but using a combination of tools like Phone-Verified Chat and Followers-only mode has proven extremely effective for a lot of our streamers,” the company wrote in the Shared Ban Info FAQ. “We believe Shared Ban Info will add an additional layer of protection, particularly against any raids orchestrated by individuals acting in tandem. That said, we encourage you to try out this and other tools, to find the combination of settings that best meets your needs.”

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