Twitch Sues To Identify People Who Uploaded Christchurch Shooting Video

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear (Photo: Getty)

The popular livestream website Twitch is suing anonymous users to find out the identities of 100 people who recently violated its terms of service by uploading content including the deadly Christchurch terrorist shooting and hardcore pornography.

The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, is against a group described as “John and Jane Does 1-100.” You can view Twitch’s complaint here.

It describes a troll campaign of abuse in which dozens of people used bots to flood Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, with videos including “a video of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack, hard core pornography, copyrighted movies and television shows, and racist and misogynistic videos.”

That campaign caused harm to Twitch and its community, the company said, and it caused Twitch to stop new users from streaming for two days as well as taking additional security steps to stop abusers from using old accounts purchased from other users.

“We take what happened very seriously and are making additional changes to prevent this kind of coordinated activity on our service in the future,” a message posted by the official Twitch Twitter account read while the campaign was ongoing. “Thank you all for your patience.”

Twitch is now seeking to identify the individuals involved, ban them from the site and force them to pay damages.

In their complaint filed last week, Twitch’s lawyers laid out their case:

“Beginning on or about May 25, 2019, Defendants flooded the Twitch.tv directory for the game Artifact with dozens of videos that violated Twitch’s policies and terms. This included, for example, a video of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack, hard core pornography, copyrighted movies and television shows, and racist and misogynistic videos. Defendants’ actions threatened and continue to threaten Twitch and the safety of the Twitch community.

Twitch took down the posts and banned the offending accounts, but the offensive video streams quickly reappeared using new accounts. It appears that Defendants use automated methods to create accounts and disseminate offensive material as well as to thwart Twitch’s safety mechanisms. Such methods are often referred to as “bots.” Defendants also use bots to artificially increase the popularity of the streams broadcasting the offensive conduct, making those streams more easily discoverable by users browsing Twitch.”

The full complaint outlines a campaign that began on May 25, two months after the Christchurch shooting, in which a group calling themselves “Artifact Streams” gathered in Discord, Google and Weebly chats to evade administrators as they traded bots that would beat Twitch’s take-downs and flood the platform with videos of murder and porn.

As a cherry on top, the group also set up a website where they used Twitch’s logos without permission so Twitch is suing for copyright infringement as well.

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