Starting next week, Twitch is adding more than 350 new community tags to its streaming platform related to gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ability, mental health, and other categories, the company said in a blog post Friday.
The list of new tags includes transgender, Black, disabled, veteran, and Vtuber, among others, Twitch said. It will also remove references to “ally” in the LGBTQIA+ tag in favour of a standalone ally tag. In its blog post, Twitch thanked its trans community for pushing so hard for a dedicated transgender tag:
“This has been one of the most popular requests we’ve heard, and the simple truth is that we should have done this sooner.”
Twitch tags are the categories streamers use to boost their discoverability on the increasingly crowded platform. When Twitch removed the ability to create custom, user-generated communities and switched to pre-selected tags in 2018, the new system prompted outcry as it noticeably left out tags for several marginalised communities.
Moreover, Twitch shoved all queer creators and content under a broader LGBTQIA+ tag, which critics said made discoverability more difficult for transgender streamers. Many streamers have been calling for Twitch to incorporate new ways for groups left out of its categories to increase their visibility ever since.
Well, it took a few years, but Twitch finally listened.
“When we launched tags in 2018, we did so to boost discovery, to help creators describe their content and to help viewers find streams they’re interested in,” the company said Friday. “We intentionally designed that system for creators to be able to describe what they were streaming, not who they were or what they stood for. We have maintained this distinction since that time, and we were wrong.”
It added that the Twitch community “is incredibly diverse and the tags available to creators should reflect and celebrate that.”
Of course, with these new tags comes the risk of bad actors weaponizing them to harass the very creators they’re meant to spotlight. Given that threat, Twitch preemptively warned that anyone found to be using these tags for targeted harassment will be subject to its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy, which could lead to suspension.
For more information about its new tags, Twitch is hosting a livestream on its channel on May 26 at 12:30 p.m. ET to address questions from the community.
This news comes on the heels of Twitch’s announcement of a dedicated category for so-called hot tub streamers. A growing trend on Twitch in recent months involves, as the name suggests, streamers simply hanging out in a hot tub or other body of water and chatting with viewers (per Twitch’s rules, streamers can only appear on camera in swimwear if it’s “contextually appropriate”).
Cue the outrage from (mostly) men accusing the (mostly) women streamers of somehow exploiting a loophole to use their feminine wiles to get views. In response, on Friday Twitch dispelled the controversy in a blog post that includes my favourite official statement from a tech company to date: “being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules.”